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This amazing Philadelphia Public School teacher had her students read my #1619Project essay on black people's role in perfecting democracy and then write me response letters. I read them last night coming back on the train. It was remarkable to see how students engaged with it.
Each student included a brief bio and a photo and then discussed what struck them most about the essay. I was transfixed reading how the essay shifted their thinking about the history they've learned and their perceptions of black people and themselves as black Americans.
It was thrilling witnessing the way they linked parts of my essay to their own lives, and to life in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, but a place that makes so many of their lives so hard. And it brought tears to my eyes when some wrote that I made them proud.
I've spent years, of course, writing about educational inequality, but I never imagined the #1619Project and my work on school segregation would meld in this way. I am reminded so strongly about the power of the press.
For the black students, two things really impacted them: That American as we know it would not exist without black people, and that America was founded in hypocrisy and black people are not the problem.
The children of immigrants were particularly struck by how the rights they have, and even their ability to live here, is due in no small part to the black freedom struggle. My heart.
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