PORTLAND, Ore — Students and teachers at Woodlawn Elementary School are reflecting on what Black History Month means to them as KGW continues its yearlong series about life inside the Northeast Portland school.

“It means that I can learn about how blacks were treated when Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive. It gives me more respect for my color,” said fourth grader Brooklyn.

First grade teacher Anthony Lowrey said he makes sure to talk about successful African Americans, including George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker.

“What I hope my kids take away is that black people helped build this nation and they don’t always get that credit,” said Lowrey.

Lionel Clegg, the other first grade teacher at Woodlawn, is never one to shy away from conversations about black history and race.

It’s one of the reasons he and other teachers at Woodlawn wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts.

KGW received a few comments from viewers after the last Inside Woodlawn asking why Clegg wears the shirt.

“It’s a conversation piece for me. It gives me to the opportunity to have that conversation around race. Which I’m always open and ready to have,” said Clegg.

Lowrey, who minored in black studies in college, said he gets energized by talking about black history and the civil rights movement with his students.

“They have so many questions, they can’t imagine not being friends with a black person or not having a white friend,” said Lowery. “It’s foreign to them and to see them be like why or get mad, just to feel that frustration, you feel like you’re doing the right thing. You’re doing the right thing.”

About Inside Woodlawn:

KGW investigative reporter Cristin Severance and photojournalist Gene Cotton were granted remarkable access to spend the 2019-2020 school year chronicling life inside Woodlawn Elementary School in Northeast Portland. Their reporting offers a rich view of how teachers, administrators, school staff and parents overcome many challenges to serve students. Join us as KGW News goes Inside Woodlawn.

Please follow our year-long series on YouTube, Facebook and by using #insidewoodlawn on Twitter and Instagram.

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