HATTIESBURG, MISS. – Friday morning, students at N.R. Burger Middle School received a valuable lesson from civil rights pioneers. Students learned about the impact of the civil rights movement and how it directly played a big part in their education.
Students at the middle school spent part of their day singing, dancing, and reciting poetry. These activities allowed students the chance to reflect on old traditions carried by many Africans American years ago.
“Today is our Black History Program,” Carol Jones, the principal of N.R. Burger Middle School said. “[We are] just trying to bring awareness to Hattiesburg history and the history of our school.”
N.R. Burger Middle School brought awareness to history by asking local civil rights pioneers to speak with their students.
“I just want young folks to realize that precious blood has been shed for us to have the rights that we currently have,” Bettie Dahmer, the daughter of (civil rights pioneer) Vernon Dahmer Sr. said.
A lesson the Dahmer family knows all too well after the Ku Klux Klan firebombed their home in January 1966. The firebombing killed, Vernon Dahmer Sr, a prominent civil right advocate known for helping African Americans receive the right to vote.
“A reporter from the Hattiesburg American came in and asked him, ‘[You] really risked [your] life to register people to vote,’” Ellie Dahmer, the wife Vernon Dahmer Sr. said. “This is what he said, ‘In this society, if you don’t vote, you don’t count.’”
Dahmer’s final words before he passed away Jan. 10, 1966.
Friday’s program featured four special guests (Ellie and Bettie Dahmer, Charles J. Brown, and Richard Burger), and each one of them spoke about the importance of receiving an education.
“I want to strongly encourage the children and their parents to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that are available to them,” Bettie Dahmer said. “Education will help them have a better future.”
“It’s up to them, this is their time,” Charles J. Brown, an African American Vietnam War veteran said. “My opportunity was limited, [but] theirs is unlimited as to what they can do and become. It’s up to them.”