By: Alicia Sands Lurry
On Monday, Feb. 29, in celebration of Black History Month, students from several APS middle schools participated in a special program and panel discussion, “The Legacy Continues: Descendants of Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement Speak to Atlanta’s Youth.” The program featured Maynard Jackson III, son of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson; Andrea Young, daughter of former Ambassador Andrew Young; Minister Elizabeth Omilami, daughter of Hosea Williams; and Michael Russell, son of construction magnate Herman J. Russell.
Hosted by Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, son of the late Julian Bond, the panel discussion allowed students from Brown, Sutton, Ralph J. Bunche, Harper-Archer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. middle schools to learn first hand what it was like growing up as children of Civil Rights legends. Throughout the program, panelists shared insights about their famous parents, their influence, and how their parents worked to inspire change in their community and the nation. Afterwards, students asked the panelists questions about their parents and their commitment to making the world a better place for generations to come.
“You are here to make your community better, and to serve,” Omilami told students. “That’s one of the greatest lessons I learned from my father.”
Students like Sutton Middle School eighth grader Maria Nino said the program was empowering.
“Before this, I felt like the Civil Rights Movement didn’t really affect me,” Maria said. “But their answers and responses made me realize that me and my friends’ lives wouldn’t be what it is without their sacrifices.”
Jamaris McElhaney agreed.
“It gave us great insight into the Civil Rights Movement,” said Jamaris, an eighth grader at Bunche Middle School. “They were able to explain what life was like back then, and the impact it has on our history. The more we know about the past, it helps impact our future.”