'We were neglected': Chesapeake teen creates group for students to learn Black history outside the classroom

Posted at 9:02 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 22:30:26-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - When you flip through an American history textbook, some key moments and details in African American history are missing.

"When it comes to people like Rosa Parks, all we know is she sat in front of the bus,” said Grassfield High School senior Isaiah Williams.

So, Grassfield High senior David Smith decided to help fill the void by creating the “Black Empowerment Organization," a group that meets virtually to discuss and dissect Black history.

"This group is going to give us the things we were neglected from when we were in school,” said Smith.

He says he first noticed the neglect in middle school.

"We spend a good three to four days on Black history, which is all of American history, and it was only limited to three days,” adds Smith.

The group meets regularly and welcomes students from all over.

"There are students at Grassfield, Great Bridge and Deep Creek right now."

In the meeting, they discuss history and learn from different people - including Spelman College's valedictorian, activists and religious leaders - and even consult local resources.

"Right now, we are actually reading a book,” said Joseph Bracey. The senior also attends Grassfield.

They're reading "Makes Me Want To Holler: A Young Black Man in America," written by Portsmouth native Nathan McCall.

"He was a product of his environment growing up, but he went to jail. He learned and started studying and made him a better person,” said Smith.

He hopes this organization will empower and also help African American students navigate being a Black man or woman in America.

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"We want to break victim mentality and slave mentality and really build them up to kings and queens,” Smith adds.

Members in the group are calling on others to join the conversation.

"I hope more people who join can see what Black history is all about and how deep it goes,” said senior Isaiah Allen.