October 11, 2013
Some Charlottesville elementary students learned some local history from someone who lived it.
Venable third and fourth graders listened to a local author who couldn't attend their school when he was their age because of the color of his skin.
Charles Alexander, or Mr. Alex-Zan, visited all six elementary schools in Charlottesville this week to share his story "The Skin is Just the Cover" and returned to Venable on Friday.
Mr. Alex-Zan was one of the dozen African American students known as The Charlottesville Twelve who desegregated Virginia schools in 1959.
Students understood what Alex-Zan did in 1959 does for Venable today.
"It was a place when he was little where he really made something important happen," said Tommy Fruscello, a Venable Elementary student.
"He allowed it so that all of us could be here," said Alex Peterson, also a Venable Elementary student.
Alex-Zan, who works as an educator and motivator, said his goal for the students was "for them to realize about the color of one's skin, and the differences, and that all people matter."
Students learned the lesson.
"Mr. Alex-Zan taught us about it doesn't matter what the color of your skin is, it matters what's on the inside and how you judge other people," said Fruscello.
"And Mr. Alex-Zan also said always be fair and always be nice and remember BS1 or multiples of it," Peterson added.
"BS1" stands for "be still for a minute," something Mr. Alex-Zan recommends when you're overwhelmed with a feeling. BS2 or more is when you need more than a minute.