Teacher's Powerful Black History Month Lesson About Slavery Goes Viral: 'They Didn't Steal Slaves'
Jovan Bradshaw is determined to "stay dropping knowledge" to her Mississippi middle school students
A sixth-grade teacher in Mississippi is going above and beyond to empower her young students while teaching a very important lesson about slavery.
Jovan Bradshaw, who teaches at Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point, used poignant words from famed author and poet Rev. Nadine Drayton-Keen to send an important message to students for Black History Month.
“Dear Students, they didn’t steal slaves. They stole scientists, doctors, architects, teachers, entrepreneurs, astronomers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, etc., and made them slaves. Sincerely, your ancestors,” she wrote.
She placed the message over yellow paper on her classroom door. Bradshaw shared the photo on Facebook, writing “Stay dropping knowledge.” The post quickly went viral, amassing 105,000 shares and more than 16,000 “likes” on the social media site.
Bradshaw told WLOX that it was one of her students who inspired the lesson.
“It all started with this little boy in my class. We were talking and he said, ‘Slaves didn’t do much because they couldn’t read or write.’ He kinda caught me off guard, ” Bradshaw told the station.
“I said, ‘Baby, if I snatched you up and dropped you off in China or Germany or Africa even, you wouldn’t be able to read and write their language either. Does that make you useless or any less educated?’ ”
Bradshaw tells PEOPLE that it took her an hour to put the display together, noting that she was looking for a way to teach the lesson quickly.
“Being a math teacher … my time is limited,” she says. “This was a way to reach all of my students. My door speaks for itself and I can keep teaching equations.”
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Bradshaw, who is running for the school’s Teacher of the Year honor, is among many educators across the country who are using their classroom doors to celebrate Black History Month.
“So many of our African-American students don’t know where they come from. All they are taught is slavery, the servitude side only,,” Bradshaw told WLOX.
“They need to know that we were great long before slavery. We built a country with our blood, sweat and tears, and the strength of our ancestors is why they can be great today. You have to see people who look like you contributing to society, and the African contribution is left out at school. I teach math, but I’m woke and I plan on waking up every student that comes through the halls of MMS.”
Bradshaw has set up a GoFundMe page to take her students on trips and purchase band instruments.