As part of their project, students also set up and decorate their own table inside the school's multipurpose room, complete with photos, books and other items that represent an important part of their subject's life.
Some recognizable figures made an appearance again at this year's exhibit on Feb. 26, including baseball player Jackie Robinson, former President Barack Obama (his wife, Michelle, made her Living Museum debut this year), abolitionist Harriet Tubman and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
But a number of students picked individuals who have been overlooked or forgotten: Eugene Bullard (the first African-American military pilot), retired astronaut Guion Bluford, and Daisy Bates, an Arkansas newspaper publisher who became an important figure in the desegregation of schools after the Supreme Court's ruling on Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
Carol Cao told the Weekly that she admired how Bates overcame her early childhood trauma and her role in orchestrating the escort of nine black students to their first day at the then-newly integrated Central High School in Little Rock.
"I feel like Daisy went through a really hard time when she was little because her mom was killed by three white men," Cao said. "She was affected by that and she confronted racism at an early age."
"She was really determined because she never gave up. It takes guts to be really brave like her and I kind of want to be like that," Cao added.
Vennelakiran Prathuri dressed up as Tubman, whose story of leading slaves to freedom on more than a dozen Underground Railroad trips she called inspirational. "I love how she was a person who kept going on," Prathuri said. "She kept going on because she knew she was a woman who wanted to change the world."
Saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was Eli Chavez's choice; his love of baseball originally drew him to do a presentation on Robinson but instead settled on Hawkins because, "I think music is so great to play when you're down ... and when you're relaxed, you can play something to jazz you up."
"I learned that music should always be an adventure," Chavez said. "It also doesn't matter what your skin color is; if you put enough effort into what you love, you can pursue your dreams."
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