Editors note: Under interim superintendent Gore disparities in the MPS have started to climb exponentially; suspensions, hiring the wrong types of teachers and the lack of diversity within the district 1 headquarters, not to mention the classrooms. Now, without respect or notice, Patrick Henry High School’s historical legacies are being erased one-by-one.
By Ms. Susan Curnow Breedlove, Life-Long volunteer-MPS and Guest Contributor – Independent Business News Networks on Our Black News (Fair Use)
Minneapolis, Minn. – The past is currently being literally stripped from the walls of Patrick Henry High School. Despite my 19-years of voluntarily collaborating with others, of thoughtfully planning the theme, design and content of this display case, I was not considered privy as to why it is being discarded. I hear through the grapevine that this has been an administrative decision. (Note: the Principal is exiting the MPS District this coming Friday. A second administrator retired.)
The significance of this removal is symbolic of a recent pattern of casting aside individuals and historic items of PHHS.
Ellen Stewart Hebert and I envisioned this display case and accompanying bulletin board at the school entry as THE PLACE to: (1) welcome visitors, (2) connect school and community, (3) honor exemplary student work, (4) educate, and (5) provide a means of unifying the “PHHS family.” The PHHS Booster Club recently put fund raising spirit clothing in the glass enclosed bulletin board. It is now discarded.
To connect school and community, a “Common Threads” display exhibited items from community and PHHS family members: an African American Underground Railroad quilt, a Hmong story cloth, a European crocheted table cloth with a hidden message, and more. Annual display of student art work is a Spring favorite. The PHHS Black Student Union and I educated the public with the February 2015 exhibit, exhibiting over 80 items invented by African Americans. The May 2015 exhibit was a collaboration of 18 PHHS staff and students honoring individuals from 12 Asian cultures; bios, framed photos of honorees and contributors educated the viewers.
The climate of the building shifts with population changes and community happenings. For example, when there was an influx of immigrants from Africa a decade ago, I felt and heard discord within the student body. I researched contributions of African cultures and created a display of 75 items and practices used in the U.S. today that are rooted in Africa and tied it together with a vast poster map of that continent. When several Henry Patriots were feeling down and out by winter and loss in the community, I researched and created “Lights of the World” showing how world cultures illuminate darkness.
The planned demise of the welcome display case at Door #1 did not involve PHHS alumni, the PHHS Foundation, students, families, the Northside community, and 98% of the staff. There was no order by district officials or the fire department.
In addition to the loss of ambiance, of history (1929), of function, of spirit, what is the cost to tax payers for the removal of such a huge cabinet? And where and how will it go to another site? Perhaps with your voices, this icon can be put back in its place.
Time is of the essence.