Class is back in session for Tuscaloosa City and County Schools and one local high school will have the opportunity to become historians in their own right this school year.
Central High School students will have the opportunity to research and follow African American history in the Druid City. Central principal Clarence Sutton said since starting Aug. 7, the class already has a waiting list.
“We have a partnership with the University of Alabama with the class called ‘History of Us,’” Sutton said. “It’s really following Tuscaloosa’s African American history. The University of Alabama teaches the courses as an elective; they partnered with us to bring the first course to the high school with a partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative.”
This class is no ordinary lecture, either. Students will be in charge of gathering and conducting all research, in and out of the classroom.
“Go to the library look at primary documents, go throughout the city, we have guest speakers coming in and they’ll take a field trip to … the museum in Montgomery,” Sutton said. “It’s a yearlong course: we do introductory, we teach them how to research how to primary documents and how to present their research to the public.”
Sutton also explained the importance of a course like this being offered in high school. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, he said one mission is to “be relevant” and make the community better as students progress through their education. Above that, Sutton believes it is all about acknowledging one’s roots.
“It’s very important to me because one of the things at Central High is to be apart of our city and how do you be apart of our city if you don’t know the history of our city?” Sutton said. “And we don’t have a lot of documentation of the African American history in Tuscaloosa, so to have the students do the research and to also give a product can lead to the improvement of our city. We’re very excited about this.”
There were over 20 partnerships to make this course possible, which is a first of its kind for a high school.