Sunday, July 31, 2016

Unsung Heroes Project

Another site that shares great stories of personal integrity and courage is the Unsung Heroes Project. Not only does the site give story overviews, it provides resources for educators and collaborates in project-based learning opportunities for students, teachers, and parents. The project even offer cash-prize awards to students whose art communicates these untold tales to a greater audience.

Many of their featured projects, that is, stories which have been brought to the public through the arts, involve people who chose to do One Right Thing. One which struck me in its simplicity deals with the difficulties faced by the Little Rock Nine during the 1960s Civil Rights era. Those black students were the first to break the race barrier and be integrated into the all-white Little Rock School District. They had to walk through lines of jeering students and adults just to enter the school, endure untold threats and horrors in an attempt to receive an education. I'm sure they all remember those horrible days well.

And yet, even decades later, Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Nine, still remembers the names of two white students who showed her kindness during her ordeal, Ken Reinhard and Ann Williams. These two unlikely heroes didn't stand by when Elizabeth and the new students came to class. Ken repeatedly offered to walk with Elizabeth despite the verbal and phoned threats he received. Ann saw Elizabeth sitting alone in class and sat beside her, chatty and welcoming. The story of these small acts of standing up for what's right has been immortalized in this short film.

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