Kids lead the way at traveling African American history museum based in South Jersey

GALLOWAY, N.J. (CBS) — The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is introducing middle school classes to complex topics related to race by having student leaders teach their classmates.

One of the museum’s traveling exhibits, redlining in Atlantic City during the 1900s, stopped at Galloway Township Middle School on Monday.

Ralph Hunter is the founder of the museum, which visits schools all across the Tri-State area.

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“Things you learn today that you put them to memory, once you have them there, you’re not going to lose them,” Hunter said. “So, it’s important to me that these students learn this now.”

Aum Patel, an eighth grader, is one of 24 students acting as docents, or voluntary guides, for their classmates.

Each student teaches their classmates a different angle related to redlining in Atlantic City.

Patel’s focus was soul food restaurants.

“We’re acting like it’s a little museum so people will come around and look at all the stuff,” Patel said. “You don’t want to leave out all the people that have their own experiences and stuff like that, so we want to incorporate stuff around in our school.”

Redlining is a form of racial discrimination, in which government maps in the 1900s outlined areas in red where Black residents lived and declared those neighborhoods “high risk,” which deprived those communities of needed investment.

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Hunter said teaching topics like redlining allows students to learn important life lessons.

“They’re going to have to deal with people of all different races once they get to high school, once they get to college,” Hunter said. “So, we’re kind of preparing them and letting them know the great accomplishments of people of color.”

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