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GOAL $3,500 The Rural African American Museum (R.A.A.) in Opelousas, Louisiana, will host a summer school for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship, and summer school activities ensuing struggles. As Social Concerns Chair- Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana, I start a campaign to sponsor the summer school.
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How do children and teens in Rural and Low-Income Communities spend their summer when school is over? In Opelousas, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, Summer School is provided by church congregations and a few local public schools. However, this year 2019, a large number of students won’t be able to attend Summer School after the burning of three black Baptist churches in St Landry Parish by an arsonist during a string of 10 days in April 2019.

The burning of black churches was a common intimidation tactic during the Jim Crow era.

For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community.

The burning of the Saint Landry Parish black churches was classified as a hate crime.

With a predominantly agricultural community with a deep pride in a francophone heritage, Black Baptist churches in Saint Landry Parish, LA offer church-based educational programs, from after-school tutorials to summer schools, computer classes to family science activities. Black churches have an historic commitment to education, and educational agencies see black churches as their best link to children in neighborhoods beset by poverty, violence and school failure.

To accommodate our Community and help our youth in Opelousas, St Landry Parish, LA the Rural African American Museum has offered to sponsor a summer camp for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship and the suppression of their churches’ activities ensuing struggles.

I offered my Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana Congregation members the opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values

The Rural African American Museum will offer a summer Camp program from 2-6pm at the Rural African American Museum, in Opelousas, with focus on providing educational services to youth of Opelousas during 4 weeks in July 2019 (July 1 – 26, 2019).

This all day program will be free, except for administrative fees.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee “Rural African American Museum” will monitor and visit the home of any child who may miss summer camp. The Committee “Rural African American Museum” is composed of Board members, educators and local leaders who will be following up to ensure that the children will complete the summer camp program at the African-American Museum.

At a time where there is a continued rise in racial and religious based hate crimes, Opelousas is facing a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of Louisiana government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and educational tools that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development in St Landry Parish, Louisiana, to help the local youth acquire the skills necessary in communication, help them believe in themselves, to empower their success and self-esteem.

The Rural African American History Museum was formed to establish, collect, hold, and preserve exhibit as a way to relate to the history of Rural African-American in St Landry and rely only on donations. Sponsoring the Summer Camp will help our local youth establish links, relate to their culture and respect their roots even in the face of adversity and hate crime.

This campaign will support the summer school to raise $ 3,500, which is needed to meet the budget expenses.

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

The program for the Summer camp will be offered to ten St Landry Parish school students age 12-15, with the following activities:

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

ENHANCING STUDENTS‘ CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: a Social Studies research project using Chromebooks laptops, books, articles and artifacts available at the Rural African American Museum. 

As I raised educational funds in 2018 for my Community in St Landry Parish to equip my students with technology, summer school students will have the opportunity to work with chromebooks for their research and presentation.

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

Applied Digital Skills to improve digital literacy with Google, using Google classroom. Students will use Google slides to present their research findings.

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

  1. Fourth week:

Art skills: Organizing, framing artifacts for the Rural African American Museum display.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Bridge geographic and generational borders using 21st century technologies

Material:

Technology: Three Chromebooks will be available for students to use for students’ research and presentation findings, with a projector for display. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

ARTS / Performing Arts: Colors, crayons, paper, mic. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Library: Use of books, articles, artifacts available at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

  • Teaching artist spoken word, slam poetry                      $1,500

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

  • Art workshop supplies (craft, notebook, frames, colors)   $   500 

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

My claim as a UULALA Congregation Social Concerns Co-Chair and member of the Unitarian Universalism Association

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Lower the walls between existing congregations
  • Members of the Baptist Black Churches will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.
  • Members of the UULALA (Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana) will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.

Our Congregation voted unanimously June 4, 2019 in favour of the project at our UULALA Congregation executive meeting.

I offer my UULALA Congregation members an opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

As June 12, 2019, a young man from Opelousas, Louisiana, was charged by a federal grand jury for a hate crime

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-man-charged-federal-hate-crimes-setting-fire-three-st-landry-parish-churches

One thought on “Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

  1. Jacqueline Phelps

    Reply

    The churches Agnes mentions are the three St. Landry Parish African-American churches destroyed by arson in a hate crime. The children who will benefit are members of those churches.

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