The Kunta Kinte – Alex Haley Foundation announces the debut of the documentary film, “Bates, Center of Excellence: Memories of Bates Teachers,” between February 17, 2018 and February 25, 2018 at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center located at 1101 Smithville Street in Annapolis.
Multiple viewing events are scheduled, which are open to the public and free of charge. Seating is limited and attendees are requested to register in advance. For the complete schedule and to register, visit https://kkahf.eventbrite.com or https://batesteachers.eventbrite.com.
The documentary is part of the Kunta Kinte – Alex Haley Foundation’s ongoing effort to promote African American legacy endeavors in the City of Annapolis and throughout Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
The mission of the foundation is to spread Alex Haley’s vision of a world that celebrates ethnic diversity through genealogy and historical research, as well as through educational and cultural programs. For many, the foundation is best known for its work in leading the effort to erect the Alex Haley Memorial on the Annapolis City docks.
Based on the reflections and memories from interviews of 15 former teachers of Bates High School, the documentary tells the story of Bates from the prospective of educators who had firsthand experiences in teaching at the school. Bates was the only secondary school for African Americans in Anne Arundel County prior to the integration of public schools in the County in the 1960’s.
The facility opened its doors in the early 1930’s and continued operations as a high school for African American students until 1966. With the integration of public schools in the County, the Bates program changed and began operating as a junior high school until it was closed in 1981. As a result of community advocacy and support, the building was repurposed in 2006 and now houses the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club, the Annapolis Senior Center, senior housing, and the Bates Legacy Center, a museum that tells the story of Bates High School and one of its founders, Wiley H. Bates.
As the only secondary school for African Americans in the County, Bates served students in grades 7-12. In addition to serving African American secondary students in the city of Annapolis, students as far north as Brooklyn Park and as far south as Friendship went to Bates. The school operated with a massive transportation system, since between 75 to 85 percent of the students traveled by bus. Consequently, given its large enrollment, Bates operated with many different satellite or expansion sites throughout the downtown Annapolis area.
In the documentary, one of the former teachers explained that Bates became a powerhouse with a broad range of academic and career educational programs. Moreover, the school had an extensive and impressive extra-curricular program, with many clubs and athletic offerings. Another former teacher shared that coming from a small school on the Eastern Shore, her student body almost trembled when they played against Bates in competitive sports. Bates excelled in sports, dramatic presentations, and it choral competitions, with a choir purported to be 200 in number.
In addition to the excellent programs for students, Bates became the hub of the African American community in Annapolis. Parents and other community members were active partners in the cultural and extra-curricular programs, as well as in the education of the children. Teachers reiterated that failure was not an option for students. Hence, Bates programs and services to students were truly indicative of a village where everyone had a stake in the education and growth of the students.
Bates had a far-reaching impact on the lives of most African American families in Anne Arundel County. In fact, the Bates educational experience became a connective glue that linked many of the African American communities across the County because individuals, their family members, and their friends all went to Bates.
Hearing the collective memories of Bates from the experiences of the 15 former teachers is the basis for the documentary. Not only is it educational and insightful, the memories and stories are nostalgic and provide firsthand insight into another era.
This documentary film is supported through individual contributions to the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, as well as from grant funds provided from the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County Arts Council, and the Four Rivers Heritage Area.
To ensure seating availability, register early to view this wonderful educational event.