Perry Center to host civil rights discussion

By Curt Yeomans


Dozens of North Carolina teachers, and at least 25 Clayton County students, will gather Thursday morning at the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Center for Learning's Open Campus High School in Jonesboro to hear a panel discussion on civil rights for black and Hispanic males.

The topic of the symposium is "From King's Dreams to Obama's Promises: What Does This Mean for Black Males in School Today?" A five-member panel including the Rev. C.T. Vivian, two students from Morehouse College, and two pupils from Clayton County's Open Campus High School, will be featured.

Open Campus High School Instructional Coach and Community Liaison Tavares Stephens, also the symposium's organizer, said although the title of the event singles out black males, Hispanic males also are included because the messages of Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Barack Obama are for people of all ethnic groups.

"One of the things we want to see after this symposium is young men being able to visualize the success they want to achieve," Stephens said. "We want to get them to see success is not race specific, but work specific."

The North Carolina teachers are participants in a program offered by the North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching designed to prepare educators to teach students about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. They will be visiting as part of a civil rights tour, offered by the teaching center, which brings them through Atlanta on their way back to North Carolina.

Stephens, who taught at the Center for Advancement of Teaching last summer, said he came up with the idea for the symposium when he learned the group would be passing through the area, with Vivian, who founded the Upward Bound Program to help black male youths prepare to attend college while they are still in high school.

The goal of the event, which will be open to only the students and the teachers, is to help the two groups to better understand their roles in the education process, Stephens said. He said the college and high school students are on the panel to give a young person's perspective on obtaining an education.

"I'm hoping that we'll begin to see the common responsibilities we have to each other," Stephens said. "That includes the teachers providing the best education possible to students, the students toward giving the best effort for their teachers."