Not Understanding Information Can Be Harmful

Not Understanding Information Can Be Harmful



At the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama we have many visitors from all over the world.  One day a group of young people came in wearing t-shirts with letters on them. I asked what the letters stood for. I was told by the president of their organization that the t-shirts were to honor all of the people who had gone before. I said that was an excellent idea.   There are many workers and volunteers at the Institute. Some of the volunteers are called “foot soldiers”.

Their President went on to say, they wanted to honor Rosa Parks in her struggles in the Underground Railroad.  At that time, I asked where he got his information from. Rosa Parks had just died a couple of months before his visit. We were indeed happy for them to come and the last thing we wanted to do was curb their enthusiasm for history. However, we wanted their visit to be meaningful. We were interested in them going away with the real story. They were young. Even despite the fact some were in their first year of college and others were still in high school.  There were no bones to pick with them. They had the struggle right. They just had the wrong names at the wrong century. I substituted the year after I retired. . I went into a third grade class and they were studying about the Titanic Ship. I told the class I could never forget the year the Titanic went down. It was the year of my mother’s birth. One student misunderstood what I said. He told his teacher, I said my mother went down on the Titanic. How he thought I had been born still remains a mystery.

The year before I retired, I was the President of the Sojourner Truth Club and also President of the City Federation of Women’s & Youths Club, Inc. I co-authored a book with Emsie Colvin on the struggles of the Presidents of The Women Federation here in Birmingham. I went on tour of the Colleges and Universities, while on tour; I got so excited I mixed up the accomplishments   of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.  I never forgave myself. Some young man or woman who has never read for him/herself is now passing on misinformation.

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