The Book Of Dreams Project Chapter One Description By Gandhi Hurwitz
on: May 19, 2009, 7:19 am
Author: Gandhi Hurwitz
was a little nervous when the students at Harford Friends School
and I began our studies of The Underground Railroad,and local
Black history..After all,this was the Book's first chapter,and
uncharted territory for all.
the kids settled in to the project,my fears were replaced with
pride. After four three hour sessions,the first chapter of an
original piece of fiction inspired by our studies had been composed.
The story centers around a boy and girl, both slaves. The kids
worked together, with no help from teachers or parents. I'm very
proud of what they created. (click
here to read) I emphasized to the students that there is history
beneath our feet,and in front of our faces, everyday, everywhere.
It's just that many of us never bother to check it out,because
we don't know it's there.
knew that we would not have to look very far to find some tasty
local Black history. After all,we live in Maryland!
it turned out,we would Christen the Book Of Dreams by entering
the first chapter just two miles from our school.
1867,a one room school house was built from wood,and stood amidst
the rolling farm land of Darlington,Maryland. The school was for
black children only,during the long years of segregation. The
Hosanna school has been restored to it's original condition..It
still stands alone with fields all around,as though little had
changed. As we entered the classroom,there was a silence,occasionally
punctuated by the creaking of a wooden floor board..The old desks
were still in their original positions,empty and mute. A pot belly
stove sat in the same corner as it always had when it was the
sole source of heat for the small building. There was a quiet
energy about this place..
would not have taken much to imagine the ghosts of children and
teachers long gone,learning to read,write,and add in this very
room. Many of the children and some of their parents who had never
learned to read walked 6-7 miles each way,rain or shine. Teachers
in black schools such as this were paid about half of what teachers
in the white schools were paid. The curriculum in black schools
was very different than in white schools as well. The local board
of education explained the disparity by stating that the black
children would grow up to be farm hands,so they did not need the
same level of education as their white neighbors children. The
cool thing about today was,that we did not need to imagine ghosts..We
had Christine Tolbert with us,who along with her parents and grandparents,had
been a student here as a young child.
also had Gladys Williams who was Christine's teacher,right here
in the very room in which we all were now seated.
would both be OUR teachers. The kids listened well,and asked many
questions as the ladies wove their stories of a bygone era..Later,Tamika
Hudson read two original spoken word pieces to us all,in the voice
of Harriett Tubman. Christine told us that even when she was a
child,there had always been strong relationship between the Deer
Creek Friends Meeting,and the Hosanna School,and surrounding black
community.She said that today felt like a family reunion of sorts.
Tamika and Gladys seemed to really hit it off,as did we all.The
kids then put quill pen to Cotton paper,and the first chapter
had been entered.
It was an awesome day,and not
one that any of us will soon forget.
know that the Book will travel to many schools and historical
sites,and I'm looking forward to seeing it take on a life of it's
for photo and video