Julian Vascot stood frozen in a batting stance.
Holding a baseball bat and wearing a cap and Los Angeles Dodgers shirt with the number “42,” Vascot came to life as he recited facts about Jackie Robinson.
Kindergarten and prekindergarten students surrounded Vascot on Wednesday at Pershing Park Elementary School as the fifth-grader explained Robinson’s struggles in becoming the first African-American Major League Baseball player.
“It’s amazing how he actually went through that and kept going,” Vascot said. “Things have changed from then until now; they’ve gotten so much better. When I saw the movie, ‘42,’ I realized that the world was never perfect.”
Vascot and his peers dressed up as notable African-Americans for the living museum.
Rachael Hood, a fifth-grade teacher, said she got the idea from a colleague who said interactive programs are a good way for students to learn.
“One of the major things we focused on was the steps in researching their figure,” Hood said. “They looked at the history of everything their person did.”
Dallas Corbin chose to portray retired general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell for his project because he is a “pretty extraordinary man.”
Powell was the first African-American to be appointed secretary of state, serving from 2001 to 2005.
“I knew a little bit about him,” Corbin said. “I wanted to learn more.”
He said learning about the accomplishments of African-Americans proves that anyone can “rise up.”
“We used to have slavery and so they basically came up from dirt,” Corbin said. “African-Americans weren’t recognized as anything and now they’re becoming big figures in our government and communities. (If slavery still existed), the U.S. wouldn’t be nearly as friendly and polite as it is today.”
After the living statues at the museum finished their presentations, the fifth-graders froze until the next group of kindergartners visited.
“The younger ones really look up to the fifth-graders,” Hood said. “For them to see that they take time out to appreciate someone, I really think it goes a long way with the younger ones.”