East End students take part in Black History Month

In Cayman’s early days many Caymanian families lived in one-room houses such as this one. Most food came from the land and the sea, in contrast to the conveniences offered by modern supermarkets.

Black History Month events at the East End Public Library came to a close on Wednesday with movie time, arts and crafts, and story time.

Sandra Ebanks, the library’s branch manager, said the events at the library from Feb. 3 to 24 marking Back History month were intended to showcase Caymanian history and culture, and influential people and events to young people of the district.

National Hero Sybil McLaughlin dances with an East End elder in front of the town hall in the 1980s.
National Hero Sybil McLaughlin dances with an East End elder in front of the town hall in the 1980s.

“Our kids need to know the deep roots of where they are coming from, the accomplishments of their forefathers and the path that they have led for all generations. This is just one way of relaying history to them,” she said.

At the library, the children enjoyed book displays, movie evenings, arts and crafts, story telling and guest speakers in support of this observance.

Story time guest speaker Delmeria Kirchman-Bodden of the Children and Family Services Department offered a “Culture Day reflection with a modern day inspiration to encourage people that whilst we have access to some things … the thing we do not have … there are ways to get it and get it in the right way.”

In her presentation, Ms. Kirchman-Bodden chose to recognize the late Neatha Conolly of East End for her contributions to the community through her book, “Neatha’s New Blue Shoes.”

“Miss Neatha was only 10 years old, but because of the skill sets she had from a very young age … and it was a part of her own survival back in those days, she used that skill set to make rope and sell it to get her first pair of shoes,” said Ms. Kirchman-Bodden.

She explained to her young audience how the moral of the story was that while their parents may not have money, if they wanted something, by going to church, school and interacting with community leaders in East End, they could acquire a skill to get it.

“By attempting it, putting it into practice and utilizing that very skill set to sell the product to make your own money, you would be able to get what you want” she said.

Ms. Kirchman-Bodden also encouraged the children to do things the right way.

“Do not get involved in crime, stealing or doing things for money that are not right,” she said.

Attorney Steve McField speaks with children at a Black History Month event at the East End Public Library.
Attorney Steve McField speaks with children at a Black History Month event at the East End Public Library.

East End MLA Arden McLean also took time to share his experiences of growing up in the district of East End.

Raised just down the road from the public library, Mr. McLean credited Warren Conolly’s influence for leading him to become a politician.

In another presentation, attorney Steve McField discussed topics in education with the Years 4 and 5 students of East End Primary School. Recalling his own school days, he told them how he had no shoes to wear to school, and that there were no buses, things the children now take for granted.

Curiosity piqued, children clamored to find out from Mr. McField if he had worn wompers and used land baskets when he was growing up.

While they learned that he himself did not, Mr. McField told them about his grandfather Lemuel McField, who did. Mr. McField recounted that it was also thanks to his grandfather that he was inspired to become an attorney.

He told the children how Grandfather Lemuel had sent him to study to be a sea captain, but he failed the navigation examination. The instructors told his grandfather it would be better if Mr. McField found a profession where he could speak to make a living, and that was how it all began.

Mr. McField also took questions from the children on his thoughts on other topics, including bullying, where he counseled restraint and consideration over hasty action.

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