David Greenberg

Black History Month

During the month of October, we have been celebrating the unheard voices and untold stories of some of the people who have shaped the subjects we teach here at DCSG. In all subjects across the curriculum, students have heard about relevant voices from black history who have greatly to the world we live in but have been too often forgotten. Teachers have worked hard to put this together - for details, please click here - and as a consequence, our student's understanding of this issue has grown.

We have also worked with David Greenberg, an author who visited us back in 2017, and then worked with students from Year 1 to 11. Due to COVID lead restrictions, even if authors want and are able to travel, the issue of hosting them here at the College and bringing together groups of students are highly problematic say the least. So we took the option of trialling a remote author visit. David recorded the following video about his book A Tugging String, a novel about growing up during the Civil Rights Era in America.

In short, the book focuses on Duvy Greenberg, an ordinary twelve-year-old trying to fit in. He knows that his father, Jack, is a civil rights lawyer, but Duvy lives worlds away from Dorothy Milton, a black woman struggling to become a registered voter in Selma, Alabama. When Dorothy reaches out to Martin Luther King Jr. for help, she sets in motion a series of events that--with Jack Greenberg's help--will open Duvy's eyes to the reality of racial inequality and forever change the course of history. Blending facts, speeches, memories, and conjecture, this novel portrays the emotions and events surrounding the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March.

In the above-recorded talk based upon his novel, A Tugging String, Greenberg discusses the racial attitudes in the United States at the end of the Civil War, and how deep prejudice against blacks still persisted. He talks about the rights denied to blacks, emphasizing that although blacks technically had the right to vote, they were quite often denied it in practice, and thus denied a voice in our political process. He talks about Martin Luther King Jr.'s attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery to call attention to this injustice, and the response of the racist governor of Alabama, George Wallace. He discusses how King (helped by Greenberg's father) used the courts to peacefully overcome the forces arrayed against them, bringing about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ultimately, he shows how this has helped to make America a far better place. Greenberg draws the connection between the institutionalized bullying of the racists and the bullying that persists today. He calls upon students to take inspiration from King and his colleagues and challenges students to embrace personal responsibility and stand up for what is just and right.

Above is an interview I recorded with David where he answered a set of 10 questions about the Civil Rights Movement formulated by Hilary Samuel's IGCSE History students who are currently studying this topic. Three years ago David did this in person with the students undertaking this unit of studying. Although we missed the opportunity to interact in person this time, the use of digital technology has certainly helped bridge the gap that the COVID lead restrictions have forced us to navigate. The upside of all this is that the above videos will be great resources for future work in this area.