SUMNER — From March 28 to April 11, artwork created by a joint project between West Tallahatchie High School and the Western Line School District will be on exhibit in the windows of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and the Cassidy Bayou Art Gallery on the Sumner Square. The student artwork centers on the Civil Rights Movement and the ongoing work for racial justice.
The project came together through the relationship between two high school history teachers, Germaine Hampton, an African American teacher from West Tallahatchie High School, and Sonny Strauss, a white teacher from Western Line School District.
They both were impacted by the events of last summer following the death of George Floyd and wanted to do something to promote racial justice in their own communities and with their students. They decided to harness the power of art to encourage their students to explore civil rights history and its relevance today.
According to Hampton, “The art gallery collaboration between West Tallahatchie and Western Line School District is about bringing awareness to the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement and present-day issues surrounding the ongoing calls for equal justice under the law.”
Hampton is hopeful this collaboration will bring awareness of the need for a continuous push for justice for Emmett Till and modern-day figures such as Breonna Taylor.
Strauss added, “I wanted my students to understand why Emmett Till’s open casket was so significant, why Mr. Moses Wright standing up against white supremacy in the courtroom was so significant and why Emmett Till’s mother went on to cry for justice for her son after the trial.”
The Interpretive Center is honored to display the artwork by these young people.
“The Emmett Till Interpretive Center believes in the use of the arts as an effective and integral medium for healing past traumas while creating new narratives in the present,” stated Benjamin Saulsberry, museum director. “We commend Mr. Germaine Hampton and Mr. Sonny Stephenson for using the arts as a way for young people to think critically about history and current events. We look forward to seeing the impact this project has made on these students going forward.”