The "first child of the civil rights movement”, daughter of Reverend Abernathy and godchild of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., visited us in our "virtual classroom(s)".
Written by GISSV Vice Head of School Jenny Jungeblut
Juandalynn R. Abernathy, daughter of Reverend Abernathy and godchild of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke to our elementary and secondary school students about her personal memories of the civil rights movement. In a moving and personal recollection, Ms. Abernathy shared her own family pictures and authentic audio from the time to take the students on a journey of the first child of the civil rights movement, as she is known. She talked about how it felt like as a child to being denied entry into the amusement park Funtown, her close friendship with Yolanda King, and the moment they heard that Martin Luther King was shot. Now an opera singer and choir director in Germany (where she has been living for 40 years), Ms. Abernathy also performed songs that were sung during that time.
The Abernathy family took their three children with them to all the events, protests, and marches of the time because they wanted their children to participate in history, advice that Ms. Abernathy has retained and passes on to her audience.
Ms. Abernathy also talked about her experiences as an African-American woman living in Konstanz and Balingen and raising her biracial son in Germany. It was amazing and eye-opening to hear her express her love for and observations of both countries. While the rendition of “We Shall Overcome” wowed the audience, her dedication to raising awareness for equality and justice will stay with us just as long. Thank you to Leslie Casimir, parent on the San Francisco campus, for connecting the school to this amazing woman and witness to one of the most important part of American and African-American history.