This January in preparation for the study of Black History month our high school and two of our feeder middle schools joined together to host the Freedom Riders exhibit created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The librarians at Murray Middle, Myrtle Grove Middle and Ashley High School worked together along with our administrators and teachers to provide a wonderful educational experience for our students. The exhibit consisted of 6 large 4-sided panels that depicted the events of the Freedom Rides from May – September 1961 and also provided background information on the events and people who participated in the rides.
The exhibit was at the high school for a week and a half and at Murray Middle for two weeks. Our two schools are joined together, so it made the transport of the exhibit easy, the students at Myrtle Grove came over to Murray to view the exhibit. We created a Libguide of our schools’ resources, links to interviews, documentaries and websites that teachers and students could use to further their study of the event. Our teachers at the schools provided accompanying assignments that encouraged the students to spend time reading the exhibit and to investigate further about the people and times that were covered. Examples of assignments were scavenger hunts: looking for information about how and why the event started, who was involved, and where the location of the rides took place; writing their own newspaper articles covering these events and incorporating further readings and discussions in the classrooms.
Both libraries opened the exhibit to the community on several nights for parents and other guests to view. One Saturday during the time our exhibit was taking place, the Public Library held a showing of the Freedom Riders documentary created by WGBH in collaboration with the Gilder Lehrman Institute.
Having the exhibit at our schools not only provided our students an opportunity to better understand the history behind the Freedom Rides and the courage it took to be a Freedom Rider, it also provided us with an opportunity to collaborate. I want to offer kudos to Roberta Troy the librarian at Murray Middle for propelling this joint venture. We decided we should do more of these interschool events in the future. If you have any ideas or suggestions for High School/Middle or Middle School/Elementary joint collaborations, please post them.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has ten traveling exhibitions. The exhibitions are loaned out for a four week period for a fee. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/ They also have a wealth of history resources on their site for teachers and students, including AP US History exam prep.
Author: Joann Absi
I am the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC. I have had positions at elementary, middle and high school libraries during my career. I am a past president of NCSLMA. Currently I am serving as the Communications Chair for NCSLMA and a member of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation.