Sunny Marie Birney wrote “Voices of our Foremothers”, in which she opens up about growing up in an adopted home raised by two Euro-American parents. Growing up, Birney cites that the people that had the most amount of influence on her were her Black female teachers. Birney particularly cites her three Black female professors who inspired her to become the educator and person that she is today. Birney talks about learning from Black teachers who understood that education was more about just understanding the subject, but more out defining and expanding the mind and the heart of the student. Birney goes on to discuss the foremothers in terms of Black women and education. These foremothers include Emma Wilson, Lucy Laney and Mary McLeod Bethune. Wilson founded the Mayesville Industrial Institute, which built its students on academic, cultural and spiritual lessons. Bethune attended this institute as a child and would return after graduating college to become an assistant to Emma Wilson. Bethune later went on to accept a teaching position at Lucy Laney’s Haines Institute. Bethune created her own educational institution, known today as Bethune-Cookman, a historically black institution. The foremothers had a passion for education and built fine institutions for the Black community. Birney ends her essay by speaking about the future of the Black community and education. Birney left the educational system in Lorain, Ohio as an inspiration for her students and went on to create the educational consulting group Yetu Shule Multicultural Enterprises that tutors, teaches and develops nonprofit programs for community based organizations.
I agree with Birney’s point of view that students learn more from teachers that care seeing as I am the same way. I enjoy the research and analyzation of our foremothers. However, in recent research for my argumentative paper, I don’t agree with the fact that Birney said that Black teachers teach by comforting and becoming mothers to their students. I feel as though saying that brings the Black female back to the stereotype of “Mammy” and I think as a human race we need to move forward from that view.