Racial Justice Team presents portraits at Glover School

Glover School students Grace Guthartz, left, and Astrid Nolasco-Tomas hold a portrait of John Lewis while students Antonia Li and Hudson Sheehan hold a portrait of Harriet Tubman as Principal Hope Doran speaks about their historical signifigance during a ceremony. Photo by Spenser Hasak

The energy was palpable at Glover School on the morning of Friday, May 6. A crowd of children, parents, and school staff filed through the doors where Black History Month and Juneteenth flags were hanging. Everyone made their way up to the “cafetorium” for the second annual unveiling of portraits for Harriet Tubman and John Lewis.

Local artist Anne Demeter crafted the murals as a gift to Susan Morrison, a prominent member of the Marblehead Racial Justice Team, for her group’s work in the community. Demeter and the team decided to share the portraits with Marblehead Public Schools. Lucretia and Joseph Brown School was the inaugural recipient last year.

Two young Glover students took the microphone to talk about what they learned about Tubman and Lewis in class.

“We learned that Harriet Tubman escaped slavery,” said one student. “She went back and helped others escape as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.”

“John Lewis fought for civil rights and spoke at the March on Washington,” said the other student. “He was in Congress for over thirty years and was awarded the Medal of Freedom.”

Next, the first grade passionately sang “This Little Light of Mine,” which would be the first of a few songs  performed to represent the themes of hope and solidarity during the Civil Rights Movement.

After the portraits were displayed, Cindy Tower-Loewen, Pastor James Bixby, and Lindsay Smith of the MRJT took the stage to officially unveil the portraits. Tower-Loewen pointed out one detail.

“Something you might notice right away is the part at the bottom with the words ‘Good Trouble…’ we don’t often see those words together, but Congressman Lewis said it was his way how he worked to make life better for everyone,” said Tower-Loewen.

She explained how Lewis coined the phrase when he was working to make change in his lifetime while others called his actions “trouble.”

Bixby then emphasized that Tubman and Lewis’s fight against racism is not over.

“The fight that she (Tubman) and John Lewis was a part of is still going on today, and it’s going to need you too,” said Bixby. “We all want this country to be for everyone, and we want racism to be a thing of the past. That’s going to take brave people. People who are willing to face their fears, just like all of you.”

At the end, Smith instructed the students to teach their parents what they learned so families can learn about the past to improve the future.