By Adda M. Santos, Somerville High School, Somerville, MA
Attending the AASLH Annual Conference in Little Rock was an amazing experience! From the time I arrived in Little Rock to the time I left, I felt it was a privilege to be there. This year I was a recipient of the Douglas Evelyn Scholarship for Minority Professionals to attend AASLH’s 2021 conference, I am a member of the Somerville Museum Board of Trustees and a history teacher at Somerville High School, where I have taught for more than twenty years and serve as faculty advisor to the school’s Local History Club. Our school-museum partnership The Basement Project also won a 2021 Leadership in History Award from AASLH.
My first full day started with an event where I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a scholar I truly admire and follow closely, talk about having the courage to educate the public on America’s hard history. That was definitely a highlight for me, but there were many other inspiring parts of the conference. I also had the privilege to listen to Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams’s eye–opening presentation on social justice, which was innovative and truly important for all educators to hear.
The events and trips were excellent: never did I think I would have the opportunity to visit the Clinton Presidential Library. I also enjoyed the walking tours around Little Rock and visiting the Historic Arkansas Museum, which had a lovely yard and historical homes right in the middle of the city. And of course, the delicious food!
One very impactful moment of my trip to Little Rock was my visit to Central High School. I have been a teacher for twenty-three years, and for as long as I can remember, I have been teaching about the courage and perseverance of the Little Rock Nine and their difficult relationship with Little Rock’s Central High School. Having the opportunity to visit the school was very rewarding to me. Living in Massachusetts, I never thought I would have the opportunity to visit such a powerful historical landmark.
Being at Central High will be one of my most impactful memories as a history teacher!
The organizers of the conference did an amazing job putting this conference together in the middle of a pandemic. I truly appreciated the choice of what color lanyards we could use, depending on our level of comfort around other people. The participants were diligent about wearing their masks and respecting our choices when it came to personal contact. All staff, presenters, and attendees made the conference special and unforgettable. Thank you deeply for sponsoring this trip for me. I’ll never forget it!