During the Civil Rights era, Yeshivat Frisch English teacher Luisa Frey was a little girl growing up in New Jersey. Her parents were both active in the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and when families of color started moving into their predominantly white small town, Frey and her mother went knocking door-to-door to welcome them.
“My parents even had me march with them in Newark, New Jersey on a peace march after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the subsequent race riots in Newark,” she recounted. “I will never forget that larger-than-life experience.”
Frey saw an opportunity to tie Black History Month to her ninth grade English class’ unit on “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, a coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s American South. “Since hands-on learning learning is my area of expertise and passion, I asked the Frisch administration if I could start a Black History Month at Frisch by featuring Civil Rights projects created by my ninth grade students.” Frey assigned students in-depth topics that focused on the Civil Rights Movement, and their projects are currently displayed in the school’s main hallway for the duration of the month.
“I wanted students to know that there were so many people, in addition to MLK and Rosa Parks, who were instrumental in making a difference in racial equality,” said Frey. Some of the projects on display include: Jim Crow laws, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Martin Luther King Jr., Jews and the Civil Rights movement, Voting Rights, black rights today; the Civil Rights Act and civil disobedience during the Civil Rights era.
Jack Shulman, a student in Frey’s class, completed his project on Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on the Civil Rights Movement. “I didn’t know who Gandhi was before, and now I know that he was vital [in influencing] Martin Luther King Jr.’s decisions and what King did,” said Shulman,
“I am thrilled with the projects that my students created for the Black History Month exhibit,” Frey said. “They worked hard and learned so much more than just facts. I’m very proud of them and their creativity too! We hope to make this an annual event here at Frisch and that students, staff and faculty will take the time to look at and read each project on display.”