|Lebanon exhibit highlights Black History Month|
|Wednesday, February 13, 2013|
By SABRINA GARRETT
You don’t have to leave Lebanon to explore the world. Just make a visit to the Lebanon-Wilson Public Library.
Emma Stafford has set up an exhibit to promote reading and cultural learning during Black History Month. The exhibit, which will remain in the Children’s portion of the library throughout February, features books on President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman and more, as well as some of Stafford’s personal yearbooks from Wilson County High School on Market Street and Tennessee State University.
Stafford, a substitute teacher, believes that children are not succeeding in comprehensive reading liked they used to. “My mother only had an eighth grade education, but impressed upon us the importance of going to school and learning,” she said. “In the school nowadays I have asked children, ‘Who is the President? Who is the First Lady?’ A lot of them cannot answer that.”
“Reading is so very important. If children do not get a good foundation in English, history, math and reading by the 5th grade, they are lost. Something is wrong when children cannot read with an understanding,” she said.
Stafford said that one way to combat illiteracy begins with parents reading to their child at home – which was the catalyst that inspired her to do the exhibit. “I want more children to come to the library,” she said.
Part of the exhibit includes a program from the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, which Stafford attended. “I never envisioned an African American to hold such a position and I didn’t know if it would happen again. I worked an extra job and took my daughter, son-in-law, two friends, sister and niece. It was costly, but it was well worth it,” she said of the trip. “This isn’t just Black History – this is history for all children.”
“From the time my daughter was in the 5th grade throughout high school, we went to England, Jerusalem, Mexico, and New York. Rather than buying unnecessary toys, I enhanced her cultural enrichment,” she said, adding that parents can do the same even if they cannot afford to leave the state. “Take your child to a museum. Take your child to the library.”
Stafford said that placing a high value on education and these cultural experiences will pay off in the long run.
“Children – get your education. You have got to come into the classroom to learn – no foolishness,” she said, continuing that strong elementary and high school educations will lead to success in college or trade schools.
After the exhibit ends , Stafford said her next pursuit will be personal – to visit the portion of South Africa where former South African President Nelson Mandela lives. “That is why I didn’t go to the inauguration this year. I have gone and seen it and I have other aspirations now,” she said.
Hopefully she will bring back mementos from her next journey for an exhibit in 2014.