Natalie Collins Diggs was the 1st Black teacher hired in the Rialto Unified School District. Her children Richard & Denise Diggs share that their mother “loved children and loved teaching.” So much so that she would even tutor their childhood friends for free prior to earning her teaching credential at the University of Redlands. Natalie believed that it was important for children to “discover the world” and so she persisted through the several challenges she faced as a black educator. When she first began teaching in Rialto, the superintendent observed her class for two weeks because parents had concerns about their children having a Black teacher. When the superintendent stopped showing up, Natalie assumed she was going to be fired, but instead was offered a full time teaching position in the district. Most teachers in the district weren’t welcoming either and she would sit alone in the teachers lunch room most days. But one day, another fellow teacher, a white woman named Maggie, asked if she could sit with her and they became “friends forever.” In some ways, Natalie was born to teach. Both her parents were teachers in Texas and raised their children to have high academic standards. Through Natalie’s resilience, passion, and foundation she was able to make great strides for black educators in the Inland Empire. Watch Denise Diggs and Richard Collins Diggs tell their mom’s story in this video.
Day #10 Charity Looper 1940s
Celebrating Educational Excellence in San Bernardino. Charity Luper ran a private Black school in the Valley Truck farm area in the late 30s and 1940s. She was a widow, born in Colorado, and in 1940 when she was in her early 50s, she lived on Central Ave in a house she rented with Mary Green (aged 73), who had moved from Los Angeles to join her as a partner in the school.
Bobby Bivens remembers Black and Mexican kids gathering around a wood burning stove in a one room schoolhouse from the ages of K-6th grade. She had a big old car and would pick up kids to bring them to school and keep close contact with families. He described her as "a stern disciplinarian" "If you acted up, she'd take you out to the woodshed and warm your butt up. Very simple." She was also an extremely effective teacher, and most kids when they left her school were promoted at least a grade ahead. She died in the early 1950s when Bobby Bivens was in the 2nd grade. We celebrate the longstanding commitment to excellence in education in the Black community and the powerful role of Black teachers like Charity Luper. If anyone has stories or photos of Mrs Luper, please share! Wilmer Amina Carter
Day 4 - We celebrate Lois Carson. More videos and stories later today
Lifting up IE Black Educators & Activists for Black History Month -- First Up Margaret Hill Check back tonight for more of her story
If you missed the great panel discussion and celebration of the Bridges Project, you can view the full video now here. Check it out and share with others! And if you have photos or stories to share with us, please fill out this form to get in touch https://forms.gle/u3LsgGUvtdPfFqq47 - Wilmer Amina Carter
Bridges Project Introduction
Thanks to all who came to the Bridges celebration event today. Many panelists told amazing stories, and we will share the full video early next week. For now please enjoy this small video about the project featuring the voices of Wilmer Amina Carter, Lois Carson and Henry Hooks and the amazing music of the Mu-tonics (Clarence Butler, Claude Duckett, Johnnie Taylor, and Joe Townsend).