There is a unique educational program going down at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Dallas every Saturday from 12-2 pm, for children of all ages called, “Knowledge Saturdays.” , is the Founder of this program and says he modeled his program after the program which was created by The Black Panther Party. His program teaches children about Black Inventors, and provides them with an opportunity to discuss current issues. And like the Black Panther Party did decades ago, he too makes sure the children have a healthy meal before they go back home. At each Knowledge Saturdays session, before any lessons are taught, all of the children stand and chant in unison, “I Love Myself and Black is Beautiful“.
The Afram News had an opportunity to sneak in on two Knowledge Saturdays sessions, to be able to provide readers with the details, about what their child will be experiencing with their parents’ permission to attend. The first order of business is to fill the writing board with a list of black inventors, such as Lewis Latimore, Garrett Morgan, Benjamin Banneker and Madame C.J. Walker just to name a few, and then Mr. Thornton goes around the room, asking the children to tell the participants in the room what invention each inventor created. Once they have gone down the list and identified each one of the inventors, or are reminded of who they are, the children are presented with the challenge of creating their own invention. Mr. Thornton provides the rules, and ideas for guidance, then the children either get in front of the board and create their ideas as they are drawing, or they split up into groups as teams, to compete against each other, to see which team fulfilled the requirements of the challenge.
The first time we attended one of the Knowledge Saturdays’ sessions held at the Martin Luther King Library, there was a little 6 year-old girl there by the name of Emorie Tillman-Ambroise, who volunteered to approach the board to participate in the activity challenge, proposed by Mr. Thornton. He asked her to invent something to help kids, such as a toy or candy. The young girl stood there for a few moments before she started to draw, and in a matter of minutes, she presented two inventions to us. One of the inventions was a candy bar she named SnickMarshmallows, which she described as being a Snicker candy bar, with a marshmallow twist. Her invention even had a specially designed wrapper, which featured a picture of a bunny rabbit in the shape of a bunny. Our young inventor told us the wrapper and the shape would attract lots of young customers. When it came down to the pricing, Emorie had some very interesting numbers, which would probably chase off the average would be buyer, but her reasoning behind her pricing was, she was going to make a lot of money from sales, and be rich.
As a spectator, you could tell Emorie enjoyed the activity. It provided her with an opportunity to create something right in front of our eyes, and later make a presentation to the class about her invention. You could hear the conviction in her voice, as she provided an explanation to us about why she was marketing the invention at the price she mentioned. It was not easy to convince her to consider reducing the price to sell more of her item, which was something we all smiled about and admired her for, because we realized even though she received a little criticism, instead of backing down and lowering her price, she explained why her product was priced higher than comparable items on the market and stuck to her guns.
The second visit with ‘Knowledge Saturdays‘ took place at Highland Hills Library in Dallas, Texas. This group had a wider age range of participants, and was split into a team of boys and girls. The challenge was broad, and the only guidance given to them was to invent something which would be useful to everyone. Each team huddled together and came up with their own invention, after a brief review of inventors names, which were written on the board. The girls invented an underground food delivery tunnel and the boys created a Hydro/Solar powered mobile phone which had speakers built into it. Both ideas were quite innovative, but the boys won. Everyone loved the idea of being able to charge their phones by dropping them in water.
The Highland Hills group had a median age of approximately 12. Therefore a second activity was added, and involved having the children fill out a budget for their future college expenses. It was interesting to see what sort of numbers they came up with for savings and rent, which was somewhat of an indication of this particular group being the perfect age, to start learning about the importance of budgeting, and coming up with more realistic numbers of what young college students are paying right now for essential school items as well as personal items. After the numbers were called out across the room, Mr. Thornton, who happens to be a business analyst, discussed the reason why some of the numbers given were unrealistic. Immediately after taking a few suggestions from Warren, modifications were made to the numbers, and the children started to modify their numbers to reflect current expenses of the today’s college kids, whether they were living on or off campus.
Before closing out the session, we had an open discussion about the use of the ‘N’ word. Mr. Thornton asked the children if there was an appropriate time to use it. The class was split and the parents were too. But for the most part, the children stated it depends upon the context in which it is used, and whether or not the person using the word has been accepted by the group or individual he or she is addressing. This is a very deep topic and it was very interesting to see that even before any of the parents started to make comments about its use, the children had already decided it was okay if it is being used among friends.
When we asked Mr. Thornton if there were any other influences besides the legacy of the Black Panther Party, which helped him come up with the idea of putting together a program called ‘Knowledge Saturdays‘, he said, “We are just making sure our great future leaders know about their amazing black history.” Thank you Mr. Warren Thornton for creating the Knowledge Saturdays program. Parents, please get your children down to the MLK Library in Dallas which is located at 2922 Martin Luther King Blvd. The group meets from 12 pm to 2 pm. Sometimes the group travels to different locations and public libraries, as they did a couple of weekends ago, therefore, because meeting times and locations are subject to change, be sure to communicate directly with Mr. Thornton at email@example.com and on Instagram @knowledgesaturdays to find out where and when the knowledge is going to be dropped.
BY: Arielle Johnson