Parkin Archaeological State Park holds last Black History Month event

PARKIN, AR (KAIT) - As Black History Month winds down, Parkin Archaeological State Park hosted the last of it's Black History Month School Days.

The program highlighted what it was like for African American children that lived in Parkin during the depression.

For some reason today's kids don't like hominy. The expressions on their faces as they tasted the boiled corn for the most part weren't happy.

Park Interpreter Mel Zabecki Harvey was letting the kids sample depression era foods like corn bread and black eyed peas as well as the hominy. Harvey said these workshops were like quick time trips.

"To inform a lot of kids in the area about what used to be here." Harvey says. "What's part of their roots and some of the important things that African-Americans have contributed to the history of this country."

At one time there were nearly 60 buildings surrounding sawmills in the Parkin area. A large portion of the workers were African American. The Northern Ohio School was built in 1910 to serve the children of those mill workers.

Faye Futch said the teachers of the period were tough.

"Mrs. Barrett demanded strict discipline in her classroom. That was one thing she did not tolerate and that was disrespect."

In fact Barretts' strap was found where it was hidden by a student years ago. It's now in a display case and shown to students. The school building was originally planned to be torn down until the Parks department realized that the original building was still under all the updates. Now it looks much as it did nearly a hundred years ago.

Earle 7th Grader Miyah Meredith has learned to appreciate how she lives now.

"They had it harder than us and we take it for granted and we don't appreciate things. But back then they had it hard."

They did have toys back in the depression, simple toys like the buzz saw, which I am told makes a peculiar sound. However with the blues jamming away down the hall, it was hard to hear.

Herman Jackson and his Outkast band was bringing a little taste of the delta to the kids.

"Blues really started in the cotton fields." Jackson said. "Musicians really started playing guitar with a string, a wire string. It originated and originated and now it's just all types of music from the blues."

The kids started out sitting down, but as the tempo of the music changed the kids were quick on their feet and singing the chorus.

Jackson, "We give you a little history of the blues as we know it how it originated and then we go from there and start playing music to them. And we start playing the blues and they get into it. They get right into it."

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