SPECIAL SECTION: 50th anniversary of assassination of Dr. Martin - CBS46 News

SPECIAL SECTION: 50th anniversary of assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., CBS46 is taking a deeper look at how the Civil Rights icon shaped history.

We're examining how the Civil Rights Movement is being taught in our schools.

Roderick Edmond grew up in Atlanta and attended Fulton County Schools as a child. 

The Atlanta attorney says when he was in school, Civil Rights curriculum was watered down.

"There was no mention of Malcolm X, none," he said. "No mention of SNCC, no mention of Emmitt Till, no mention of Fanny Lou Hamer, no mention of any of that."

Edmond said it wasn't until he attended Morehouse College that he truly learned about the Civil Rights Movement. He said he thinks he knows why it wasn't taught in detail in his public schools.

"Human nature is to avoid discomfort. It is uncomfortable dealing wit the gruesome past."

One woman responsible for teaching that past is Debbie Daniell. She's the K-12 Social Studies Director for Gwinnett County Public Schools. She's been an educator for 39 years, teaching in Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale and DeKalb Counties.

"Well history is history," said Daniell. "That hasn't changed. The manner in which we teach might have a different look."

Daniell said students first learn about Dr. King in kindergarten, focusing on his non-violent message.

Fifth graders study the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on the country. Eighth graders examine the impact the movement has specifically in Georgia.

High school students take a deeper dive, examining its cause and effect.

"There are parts of our history that are hard history and it's tough for a teacher to stand up and for a student and for a parent to say yet, this happened," she said. "It doesn't mean that it's right but what can we learn from it?"

Daniell attended segregated Fulton County Schools.

"It was just the facts so we learned from Jim Crow Laws, we learned from the past and it was just the way people operated right or wrong."

Today with more access to information and resources, Daniell says teachers are able to better teach the subject.

Though both her and Edmond agree that there's still room for improvement.

"In America, we have been negligent in not basically being honest with the facts and educating our kids," Edmond said. "We need to do better."

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