Book author brings a Civil War & slavery lesson to Buffalo school children
An important Black history lesson was delivered to some Buffalo Public school students. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says the author of The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills visited three city schools Monday.
“And he was no ordinary slave – he was extraordinary,” stated Cheryl Wills, television Journalist at NY1 in New York City.
But on her days off, she's traveling around the country to read her book to elementary school students. She appeared at Community School #53, West Hertel Academy and the Lovejoy Discovery School in Buffalo.
Students received a copy of her children book. It is the story of her great, great, great grandfather -- a slave who found for freedom as a Civil War soldier.
“It’s a labor of love, I’ve got to tell you. Teaching students about the Civil War through the eyes of a descendent is something I wish I had,” said Wills.
Wills was the first journalist invited to speak at the United Nation General Assembly for the International Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Wills challenged students to see if they were listening during her reading and if they comprehended the true story of her ancestor who suffered slavery.
“So often we teach the Civil War, we talk about Gettysburg, we talk about all the battlefields, and I feel that most kinds ‘in one ear, out the other’, but when you teach them it’s a family story,” explained Wills. “These kids need to know. I need children everywhere to get off Snap Chat, Facebook and Twitter. It’s too distracting and it takes away from the education process – all that gossip and chatter. You really need to understand what makes America great.”
Wills stresses to students to learn about their own family history, to be inquisitive and ask about ancestors. “And you know what makes American great? You family’s story and your family’s place in history and I think if more students understood that, I think this country would be a better place,” responded Wills.
The lesson from the book The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills was a home run for Lovejoy Discovery students. Many seemed to really listening and then wanted an autograph for their book.