Skip To Main Content

Connecting with History: Meeting Antoinette Sithole and Melba Beals

Connecting with History: Meeting Antoinette Sithole and Melba Beals
Sophie Shulman

This week, we are thrilled to welcome a delegation of 7 students and 4 adults from our partner school in South Africa, Kliptown Youth Program (KYP). During their stay, students and teachers in the delegation will participate in homestays with Mark Day families, teach lessons and learn alongside one another in the classroom, experience the Bay Area, and perform for the community. The delegation will be on campus until April 5.

Among the delegation, Thando Bezana is back as our artist-in-residence, working not only with our art teachers but also in history classes through the K-8 spectrum; we also have a new teacher-in-residence, Teboraga (Tebo) Maluleka, a middle school teacher and member of KYP’s leadership team. Tebo will learn more about teaching at Mark Day School. She was trained on Bridges in Mathematics during the faculty professional development day on March 11, alongside Mark Day teachers. She will also observe how SEL Toolbox Tools are implemented in classes and how to support students who are learning to read. Additionally, we will welcome Antoinette Sithole, who was part of the Soweto Youth Uprising of June 1976, a turning point in sparking national and international resistance to South Africa’s policy of apartheid (read more about her story in TIME here). Ms. Sithole is a prominent figure during the Mark Day delegation trips to South Africa, telling her story outside the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum which preserves the memory of students who fought against apartheid in Soweto, including her brother who was tragically killed.

With Ms. Sithole’s visit, we seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a dialogue between two remarkable women. On Wednesday, March 27, at 10:00am, Ms. Sithole will join Dr. Melba Beals, a member of the Little Rock Nine, in conversation. The Little Rock Nine was a group of African American students who were involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Both women made critical contributions to changing the course of history and, along the way, displayed great courage and fortitude in the face of threats and harassment. Dr. Beals will join the conversation virtually, and she and Ms. Sithole will talk about their experiences at the forefront of combating racism. 

We are bringing together students in grades 5-8 for the conversation, which will touch on topics these students have studied in class and bring to life historical events they are already familiar with. Extraordinarily, both Ms. Sithole and Dr. Beals were 15 years old—just a bit older than our graduates—when they took such great risks to stand up for what was right and transform the path of history. Parents, guardians, alums, alum families, and friends are also invited to the event.

We are so grateful to have this opportunity.