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Sharing Race History for Homer Schools and Community

Carter was a substitute teaching about some projects he’s working on in Homer and other parts of the state to help share African American history. He tells me what he began with when he first came to Homer.

New Homer community member Ted Carter taught science and math for middle school studentsin Cleveland for 34 years before moving to Anchorage and teaching at Clark Middle school for a year before retirement and moving to the peninsula. I talked to him at Homer High School recently where he was substitute teaching about some projects he’s working on in Homer and other parts of the state to help share African American history. He tells me what he began with when he first came to Homer.

“First of all, I got here 10 months ago so every Saturday I was picking up trash along the highway, right? I did that every Saturday all summer, because I thought, you know what? Homer has given me such a great retirement start, right? They've blessed me with a great community, with a home and things that nature so I was always thinking about how could I get back to my community? To Homer? And then when I started thinking about the ethnicity of Homer and how it lacks of, I thought it would be a great idea to put on African American history programming. So I came up with two topics. One was how the Al-Can Highway was built by African American soldiers. Four battalions, actually, we're all African-American and they helped build the Alaskan Canadian Highway. It was an amazing story because it was two units. There were black units and there were white units. The white units started from the south and black units started from the north. So you know who had the disadvantage? They didn't have the proper tools and then my second topic that I was doing here in Homer was how Africans were bought into America and the history behind that. Because a lot of times teachers and a lot of Educators started at the Civil Rights Movement with black history and it's really hard for a child or student to understand or perceive How African Americans are having so many problems right now by just starting in the 60s. So, I've been doing that with Fireweed Elementary, West Elementary along with Homer High School. The principles were very receptive very receptive. So, they gave me a lot of time. I worked with several teachers to put together great programs and the students really got a lot out of it.”

He talks about why he wants to share this history and topic with the schools.

“My whole goal was actually to promote conversation. Because it's so important! A lot of students, even adults, feel that it's a taboo subject to talk about race relations or anything. I just had a class that just left and two students felt uncomfortable talking about race issues. We shouldn't be like that. We shouldn't feel uncomfortable. The uncomfortability comes with not knowing. So, if we talk to each other, if we have these conversations with each other then we dismantle a lot of things that we might have blocked in our mind.”

He shares some of the aspects of diversity at Clark:

“I taught one year in Anchorage at Clark Middle School, Clark is the most diverse Middle School in America with just demographics. I've had Jews, Somalians, Jewish Somalians, Sudanians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Russians, Alaska Native. Let's just goes on.”

I ask how the community is different at a school like Clark where there is more substantial ethnic diversity.

“Well, like I said, the diversity is definitely there. What I tried to do is to tap each week with a different culture; I would play Dominican music during break time for a week. I'll pay Somalia music for a week. So I would try to branch out like that,” he said.

He ends by talking about a new idea of putting together a YouTube channel or something of that nature of what it’s like to be black in Alaska and black in Homer. There are very open people here, he says, but also mentions that there are people in the black community in Anchorage who are hesitant to come down, even to visit. So, he wants to help accommodate that just like he has in the schools.

I hope he finds some good opportunities to follow up on this and invite more diversity into our local community.