published Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Howard students celebrate literacy

Stories and history will be celebrated across generations next week.

Students from Howard School of Academics and Technology and senior residents of Mary Walker Towers will spend time together, discussing black history and sharing experiences. The importance and value of literacy will be a primary topic, said John L. Edwards III, curator and president of board of directors at Mary Walker Foundation.

One of the goals of the Mary Walker Foundation, Edwards said, is to promote literacy through history. Literacy, he said, is key to freedom.

"Those people who escaped from slavery realized that the thing they had to do to make it was to learn how to read," he said. "We are showing that reading is very important for our future."

Mary Walker was a local black woman who earned a spot in history for her perseverance to learn to read at age 100. This partnership, "Celebrate Literacy! Continuing the Legacy of Mary Walker," is being facilitated by the Chattanooga Department of Arts, Education & Culture.

"We have been developing the idea for intergenerational reading circles for some time now," said Missy Crutchfield, EAC administrator, in a news release. "We recognize not only the need for building literacy across generations but also for creating time for youth and adults to discuss the past and the present -- and learn from each other as together we build a better future for our community."

Edwards echoed the hope that bringing together generations can have a positive effect. He said he believes hearing stories about the changes that have taken place over generations will give young people a greater sense of value and appreciation.

"This generation is so disconnected from African-American history," he said. "We think that's the root of some of the problems we have with some young people in gangs. If they knew what price African-Americans paid for what we have now, they would value their lives a lot more."

During the visits, students and residents will spend time discussing black history. Betty Ruth Robinson, president of the Mary Walker Towers resident council, said the talks should prove to be of mutual value.

"Maybe we can learn something from each other," she said. That's what we're aiming for. The young can learn from the elderly as much as the elderly can learn from the young."

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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