Eighth grade Richardson Prep Hi Middle School student Yonathan A. Habtemariam recently presented a letter to the San Bernardino County Unified School District Board of Education to thank them for sending his mother, Angela Coggs, on the Footsteps to Freedom Study Tour. Here are his remarks:
I would like to thank Assembly member Cheryl Brown, Black Voice Foundation, Mrs. Singer (my 6th grade ELA teacher at Richardson), Mr. Hardy Brown II, Superintendent Dale Marsden, and the San Bernardino County Unified School District Board of Education for inviting and allowing my mother, Angela Coggs, to participate in the Footsteps to Freedom Study Tour last month.
She was very excited to have this opportunity to experience all the historical landmarks and sites that were outlined in the schedule. Even though my mother has a bachelor and master’s degree, she said she learned so much more than she expected. She came home and told me about the Rankin family, Rankin Hill, John P. Parker, Josiah Henson, John Mercer Langston, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Oberlin Rescuers, the Coloured Cemetery, Buxton, The First Congregational Church of Detroit Underground Railroad Tour, Sarah Margru Kinson, The National Railroad Freedom Center, etc. There is too much to mention everything she told me about. Whenever the Underground Railroad was ever mentioned, all I remember is being taught about Harriet Tubman but it was about so much more.
She said she was especially moved after watching the Brothers of the Borderland short film at the Freedom Center, standing and looking at the replica bodies of men, women, and children at the bottom of the slave ships, stepping onto the bus and sitting in the exact seat that Rosa Parks sat, experiencing Canada and Niagara Falls, and visiting the grave site of the great Frederick Douglass. These are things she never thought she would ever have the opportunity to do in her lifetime. She was able to reconnect with and old friend, Dr, Daniel E. Walker, and make a new friend, Mr. Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the great, great, great grandson of Frederick Douglass.
I just wanted to say thank you again for providing my mother the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and seeing their struggles in a new way. I hope to go on this tour when I get older because my mother said it is life changing. If you have not gone before I think you should go next year. I also think kids my age should go and see how the slaves fought so much for their freedom and education. I appreciate the opportunities I have and the sacrifices they made for me.