HistoryMakers provide insight and advice to APS students at Dobbs and Bunche

From L-R: June Dobbs Butts, Juliette Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon, Oniola Day, Malik Person

For years students and educators alike have passed through the halls of John Wesley Dobbs Elementary without making a connection to the man for whom their school was named — until Friday. Dobbs’ daughter, June Dobbs Butts, and niece, Juliette Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon, appeared at the school as part of The HistoryMakers project. Dobbs was one of six schools around APS to welcome guests who provided educational and entertainment oral histories. This particular program is part of a nationwide back-to-school effort from the organization.

The two relatives of Dobbs, the late African-American civic and political leader, described Dobbs to the students and how his legacy informed their own inspirational lives. June Dobbs Butts, 82, is a retired professor of human sexuality who most recently had worked for the Centers for Disease Control through an effort with the Atlanta University Center. Blackburn-Beamon, 72, is an adjunct professor of humanities at Clark Atlanta University.

The two women also made note of Dobbs’ longtime relationship with the late U.S. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. Together, the expressed their appreciation of history. Blackburn-Beamon in particular has carved out her own niche in history; after entering the business world, she served as the first African American and first woman to be assigned as a floor manager at the Sears & Roebuck department store at the then-recently segregated Cumberland Mall. “History is a recording of what we are about as people, so we want to keep up with that so that we can learn from our past,” said Blackburn-Beamon.

It was a particularly special visit for Dobbs Butts, who was asked by student Todd McClendon about how many times she’s visited the school. “This is exciting. I’ve only been here a few times, and I’d like to work with this school more,” she told the students. “I would like to talk more about family life and health issues.”

Dobbs fifth-graders Oniola Day and Malik Person escored the women to the assembly and then fielded questions from classmates before asking some questions of their own. The event was coordinated by fifth-grade teacher Salimah Hadi, a Teach for America teacher.

HistoryMakers also visited Hill-Hope and M. Agnes Jones elementary schools, Bunche and Kennedy middle schools and The New Schools at Carver.

Media Specialist Patrice Walker noted that Clark Atlanta University President Emeritus Dr. Thomas Winston Cole and his wife, the Honorable Brenda H. Cole, offered Bunche students a few keys to success during their HistoryMakers visit on Friday.

“Please and thank you go a long way,” said Dr. Cole, who also encouraged  students to be lifelong learners. “The world is ever-changing, and you must be able to adapt, and be responsive.”

Judge Cole added that students should respect themselves, set positive goals, be prepared and give back to others.

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