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Retired teacher would like multicultural program

November 04, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Crispus Attucks, Sojourner Truth and James Hubert Blake - revolutionary martyr, anti-slavery spokeswoman and playwright - all black, all almost forgotten in history curriculum, said Leon Brumback, a retired African-American Studies teacher from North Hagerstown High School.

He said he is sure only famous blacks George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass are taught to students in Washington County Public Schools.

"It's very important not that you see color," Brumback said. "You should be able to recognize people for who they are and what they've done."

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Brumback, the first black to graduate from Hagerstown Community College, had been bused during segregation from Hancock to North Street School in Hagerstown because it was the only black school in the county.

He began his teaching career at North Street and taught for 38 years before retiring in 1998.

He is still involved with Washington County Public Schools through his work posting photographs and displays of famous blacks at local schools during Black History Month in February.

He said that while setting up those displays he's watched and listened as children visiting from schools in other counties marvel over why they don't have that kind of showcase at their own school.

"The kid is the loser," Brumback said.

He said the more students know about each other and their backgrounds, the more they will be able to identify with each other.

"These people go into the classrooms and meet with Africans and Asians and have never met with them before," he said.

Brumback said he would at least like to see Washington County Public Schools create a course on multicultural studies.

Brumback was the only teacher who focused an entire class period on blacks before he left the school system almost five years ago. Today, no such class exists.

"I went into a seventh-grade class last year and no one knew what segregation was," he said.

Brumback said he blames the entire system for any cultural deficiency in the classroom.

"You teach what you've been taught," he said.

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