YONKERS N.Y. – Students at one Yonkers school learned about the period of American history known as the Reconstruction Era in celebration of Black History Month.
New Rochelle author Linda Tarrant Reid spoke at Yonkers' Saunders Trades and Technical High School about her book, "Discovering Black America." The book, which is a “2013 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People” award recipient, sets 400 years of African American history against the global events of the time.
The Reconstruction Era was an important period in African American history because it set the foundation for a new society in the South, said Reid.
"What happened was the war was won by Union in the North, but left the South in a state of dismay, with both tragedy and rebirth," said Reid. "I was inspired to tell these stories by my parents because they were avid readers and collectors of books. They would put up African American calendars that highlighted decorated figures like George Washington Carver, which in turn sparked my interest."
The school has other projects to teach about African American history, but bringing in an expert to lecture will do something special for our students, said Principal Steven Mazzola.
"For years I've wanted to establish an author speaker series because there's no better way to inspire students than exposing them to people who really know their stuff," said Mazzola. "We were ecstatic to have such an accomplished author like Linda to come in because her knowledge works perfectly in conjunction with Black History Month. I've read her book and it's just riveting."
Listening to an author who grew up nearby is inspiring because it says anybody can do anything they put their mind to, said African American club President Jeleah Millington, 16.
"Events like this are inspirational because we're not always exposed to this kind of education," said Millington. "My club's mission is to enlighten our peers about our culture, and to create awareness of what our people have gone though. This author had an interest in her culture, and really did something to spread her knowledge, which is exactly what I'm trying to do."
It's important for people to educate themselves on topics like this because without doing so many great stories will fade away, said Reid.
"Even I, as an expert, didn't know everything I do now before I started to do some serious research," said Reid. "The story of the African American journey isn't fully explained. We were forced to come to this country before most immigrants. We then went from being in chains to helping to build our country's infrastructure. We went on to become doctors and lawyers, and really make our country the place it is today."