Madison, Wis.—Local Madison school teacher Camara Stovall has taken on the role of facilitator for New York Times podcast group discussion starting Jan. 2.
Camara Stovall is an African American teacher in the Madison School District who is actively seeking answers to long-standing questions regarding public school disregard for historically correct textbooks. Stovall seeks to answer these questions by hosting podcast discussions in reverence to recent publication by “the New York Times 1619 Project.” Stovall is passionate about revisiting American fundamentals of slavery to paint the entire picture of American democracy.
“We just celebrated a recent holiday, right? That holiday was Thanksgiving. The history books tell us America first started when the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. That is not the true story. America was founded on the backs of African American slaves who landed on the English King’s shores in 1619,” Stovall said.
Parishioners of Sherman Avenue United Methodist Church in Madison, Wis. sent out invitations to community members to join Stovall’s discussion. Sister Saundra Brown from Arkansas co-facilitated the event who put together a menu of what a typical slave would eat. The meal was served prior to discussion to acknowledge the overcoming of oppression by forefathers who took all the “master’s scraps” and prepared delicacies commonly found in soul food restaurants across America.
“We are serving items commonly found on plantations to prepare a typical meal normally served to slaves,” Sister Saundra Brown said.
Parishioners and guests conversed while meal was being served. Sister Saundra Brown spoke of the center piece on each table that represented cotton culture in the African American community. Brown shared how dark-skinned slaves worked the fields who were designated as “cotton-pickers,” which carries an overtone found in contemporary American slang. Guests and parishioners were invited to feel the texture of their cotton display to imagine how hard ancestors worked to bring America its cotton industry.
“Feel the texture and imagine what it must have been like,” Brown said.
Stovall spoke to members of the audience to share his personal feelings about teaching in a public school glorifying a slave owner. Stovall clearly spoke passionately about turning the pages back in history to tell the full story instead of feeding our children false narratives. The 1619 Project facilitated by Stovall and Brown tackle all angles through discussion to investigate democracy. Podcast discussion to include worksheet inventory taking invited audience to take a closer look other than what is typically taught in public school. Brown’s worksheets invited audience members to think clearly about historical facts and how America presents those facts as truth. Together, parishioners and guests walked away with an experience they will never forget.