EDITORIAL: Learning about lives of inspiration

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

It may seem inconceivable to children growing up today, but there was a time when the very idea of businesses being open to all races was a source of controversy.

But that was certainly the case in Huntington in the early 1960s, with multiple eateries downtown being segregated and refusing to admit or serve Black customers.

Those establishments were the subject of civil rights demonstrations, with activists working to shine a spotlight on the bigoted and racist business policies and bring an end to them.

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And at the front of those demonstrations was Phil Carter, a student athlete at Marshall University, who would later go on to teach social work at the school for more than four decades.

Carter is something of a living legend in local history, which is why he was the perfect subject for a Burlington Elementary student, when he was chosen by Jaden Young to be portrayed in the school’s annual second grade Living Wax Museum.

That project, which has been a tradition at the school since 2017, serves as an inspiring way to teach history to young minds, with the students selecting a subject, researching them and then portraying them in the exhibit, which is visited by the other students and parents.

One of the teachers overseeing the wax museum since its inception is Courtney Ray, who was on hand Saturday, at Austin’s at the Market, when her second grade class was treated to a reward for their efforts.

Carter and his wife, Beverly bought ice cream for the students at a back-to-school social.

Carter wanted to, not just thank Young for his work, but to also congratulate the school for its emphasis on history.

From civil rights leaders, to pioneering astronauts, to athletes, to entertainment figures, the students, through their research, learn about the lives of their subject and are inspired by their lives.

Carter also brought along a group of people, keyed into history, who emphasized the importance of learning the subject and spoke of how it can help one to live up to their potential.

We commend not just Carter for his gesture and for giving the students a chance to meet a participant of historical events, but also Ray, the teachers and faculty at the school for their novel approach to teaching the subject.

The enthusiasm of the children involved year after year shows just how successful the project has been.