Interviews by TAYLOR ROBINSON, photos by HARRISON FISCHER
If you could meet any African American hero, well known or not, who would it be?
“I would say that there are a lot of war veterans that we don’t always acknowledge that I would like to meet. I have a friend in the Marine Corps and he’s given me a lot of stories about commanding officers. They seem like wonderful people. So, I would like to meet the servicemen who have held all kinds of positions.”
Elizabeth Jenkins, 20, Canton, anthropology
“I would like to meet musicians, especially those from the Louisiana area where there was a large movement for music. For me, it was large part of what helped with the rights movement because everyone listens to music, if they listen to the same music, it can bring people together.”
“I would like to meet Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn’t really ask him anything in particular, but I would take all the information he could give. He was a smart man. We just read an article about him in class. I read a letter from Birmingham jail. The article was about how he was in jail and the how the U.S. was treating black people wrongly.”
Rayshawn Johnson, 21, Detroit, music engineering and production
“I would want to meet Muhammed Ali. I would ask him how he felt about the government. What pushed him to stay in the boxing ring?”
“I would like to meet the author of ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’ Zora Neale Hurston. The main character was mixed so I liked the fact that she was torn between two interpretations. People interpreted her in two different ways. It’s about this girl in the 1900s in a small village and how she is confronted with traditional values versus modern values. I’d also like to see the Harlem Renaissance and would like to hang out at jazz clubs.”
“I’d want to meet Jackie Robinson. I’m a huge baseball fan and he was the first one to break the barrier. I’d just want to ask him ‘How’d you do it, man?’”
“Oh man, oh man, there are so many of them. Mine would have to be Denzel Washington. Obviously he’s a wonderful actor. I’d also want to meet Morgan Freeman.
Each of them have complete opposite views of Black History Month. Morgan Freeman doesn’t believe in it. He believes that there shouldn’t be one month to celebrate African Americans because there’s not one month that celebrates other nations of people. He sees that it’s not needed in any community and exploits the negativity.
But, Denzel thinks of it completely differently. He thinks it enriches our culture and how we came to be. One of the positive questions I would ask them would be how they got to this point in their life about African Americans …
My view is neutral. I don’t agree with it or disagree. I see views from both ends and that’s why I stated them both. It’s true, not many people know a lot of African American history…
It’s enriching history. Any history can be enriching but African American culture is just kind of a whole world of its own. But, you can say that about any culture. “
Emily Freeland, 21, Blissfield, nutrition
“I would say Harriet Tubman. When I was a little girl I did a report on her. I think it was fourth grade. I read a book about her and I just thought that she was such an inspirational woman. I would just want to meet her. She was obviously so strong. I know when she was older she did some public speaking about her life. I think it would be so cool to hear her talk about what she went through.”
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