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To Understand the Past Helps Us Better Appreciate What We Have - from The Messenger

February 16, 2020

When Shaun Begalle, 9, a fourth-grader at Butler Elementary School, began researching Crispus Attucks as part of a class project, he found him to be particularly interesting.

"He was a black slave and became a sailor," Begalle said. "He might have had some facial hair and he looked a little on the heavier side."

Begalle along with four other Talented and Gifted students in Dawn Richardson's class were asked to report on someone who has made an impact on African Americans, the Civil Rights movement, desegregation, or made a change in history for the betterment of African Americans.

It's part of the school's efforts to celebrate Black History Month.

Attucks' courage is something Begalle admires.

"He was brave because he was trying to beat up the British soldier," Begalle said.

Attucks is known as the first person killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770.

"He was the first one to take a bullet," Begalle said.

Mason Zuspann, 10, picked George Washington Carver for the project.

"He was born into slavery and him, his sister, and his mom were kidnapped," Zuspann said. "He was a scientist and an inventor."

Damari Clark, 9, and Jason Dolat, 10, chose more modern figures.

Clark researched Kobe Bryant, a famous basketball player who died tragically in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

"They called him Black Mamba," Clark said.

Dolat researched former U.S. President Barack Obama.

"He was the 44th president and the first African American president," Dolat said.

Reggie Pederson, 10, picked another former U.S. president - John F. Kennedy.

"He helped a lot with the separation of blacks and whites and helped us live how we live today," Pederson said.

Pederson said he was a strong leader.

"He supported everything that Martin Luther King Jr. did," Pederson said. "He never gave up about what he believed in."

Richardson explained that it was OK for Pederson to research JFK.

"As long as the person had an impact on African Americans," Richardson said.

After the students are done researching, they will be asked to interview each other about what they learned.

"We are here today because of all the sacrifices African Americans have made," Richardson said. "To understand the past helps us better appreciate what we have."

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