Last modified: Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Banneker History Project involves IU education students, city government, community residents
The Banneker History Project is now under way in Bloomington as a joint effort with the Indiana University School of Education, local schools, city government and residents in the Banneker Community Center area on the city's near west side.
Lynne Boyle-Baise, associate professor of education at IU Bloomington, is directing the project in partnership with a community team including Bev Johnson, adult/family services manager for the City of Bloomington; Leslie Brinson, director of the Banneker Community Center; Clarence Gilliam, president of the Bloomington branch of the NAACP; and Betty Bridgwaters, a near west side neighborhood organizer.
"The purpose of this project is to help young people learn about the history of Banneker as a school and as a community center," said Boyle-Baise. "Our two main goals are to help high school youth become informed and active citizens and to help future teachers become responsive to community concerns."
The Banneker Community Center, 930 W. Seventh St., houses a variety of community programs and activities for the city recreation department. At this and a previous location, Banneker School was a segregated school for Bloomington's African American residents from the early 1900s to 1955. It then became the Westside Community Center. The name was changed by the Bloomington City Council in 1994 to reflect the contributions of Benjamin Banneker, a prominent person in African American history because of his accomplishments as a scientist, inventor and architect.
"Student groups will study the impact of racism and segregation on the neighborhood's past and consider ways for citizens to continue to fight racism," explained Boyle-Baise, "because this project is intended to educate young people to think, feel and act as involved citizens. It also seeks to educate future teachers to think of themselves as community teachers who are oriented to neighborhood strengths, resources and concerns."
Boyle-Baise said Project TEAM, an IU School of Education honors enrichment program for future teachers of color, will assist with the project. Some 24 TEAM pre-service teachers are leading three projects involving (1) Students Against Violent Events (SAVE) at Bloomington High School North, who are interviewing people who attended Banneker when it was a segregated school, (2) students at Fairview Elementary School, who are writing biographies of Benjamin Banneker, and (3) past directors of Banneker Center to learn about its community service role over time.
Planning for the project began last summer, and an informational meeting with city and community officials was held this week. Most of the research interviews are planned for February and March, and the results will be published and displayed at the Banneker Center.
For more information on the project, contact Boyle-Baise at 812-856-8191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.