Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Barnum student advances to state for History Day competition


April 19, 2018

A. R. Vander Vegt

Anna Wikstrom will participate in the state level competition for History Day.

Anna Wikstrom probably knows more about the Civil Rights Movement than many twice her age. Her research into it is leading her to compete at state level for what is called History Day.

It all started in her ninth grade civics class at Barnum. Anna said the class "barely touched" on court cases significant to the movement, but one stuck with her - the landmark case Loving v. Virginia. It was "unreal" for Anna to consider it illegal for two people of different races to be married. "This applied to not only African Americans but Native Americans and Asian Americans as well."

Fast forward to 10th grade, and Anna's history teacher, Lauren Wendroth, introduced History Day to challenge Barnum's 10th and 11th graders.

History Day, Wendroth said, is participated in nationally. It's an "inter-disciplinary research project." The idea is to give opportunity for students to "conduct in-depth research utilizing primary and secondary sources to gather information in order to present their topic." Projects revolve around a main event, and students gathered research orbiting around that event.

Each year, a theme is chosen for History Day. This year's theme was "Conflict and Compromise." When Anna heard the theme, she knew right away she wanted to hone in on Loving v. Virginia for her project.

Once the students chose a topic, the next step was to choose a medium for presentation. Wendroth said students could choose to create an exhibit board, documentary, website, performance or research paper. "Quite a few Barnum students chose to create exhibit boards, websites and documentaries."

Projects were prepared for History Day. At the school's History Day, Wendroth said, "admin and teachers gave critiques and scored competition projects." The next level was regionals, all those who completed projects had the option to compete. At the regional, state and national level, "judges are volunteers and History Day certified."

Anna went with the documentary. She chose this medium because she thought it would set her apart from her classmates. "I also chose to do a documentary because I love technology. I love editing things, and I also love talking." After showing her work at Barnum's History Day, she decided she wanted to move along to the regional competition.

Her project covered timeline, bringing out the "struggle the Lovings went through."

Mildred (nee Jeter) and Richard Loving grew up in the same county in Virginia. As the two grew older, they fell in love. In order to be married, they traveled to Washington, D.C. to evade Alabama's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made marriage between whites and any person of color a crime. Mildred was a woman of color and Richard was white.

After their marriage, they moved back to Virginia. Early in the morning of July 11, 1958, Mildred and Richard were arrested in their home, told that their marriage certificate was invalid. They were charged with miscegenation and for marrying out of state only to return.

Mildred wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred their case to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It was nine years later, on June 12, 1967, that their convictions would be overturned unanimously by the United States Supreme Court. In addition to dismissal of the Lovings' charges, the court ruled Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional.

Digging into the Lovings' case contributed to personal development, Anna said. People pretty much marry who they want now, but not so long ago, two people of different races weren't supposed to get married. This project has given her more perspective on the projection and development of history.

Anna couldn't believe it when her project was selected to move forward to the state competition at regionals. She was the only Barnum student to be selected. State for History Day is April 28 at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and she's tweaking a few things on her project now.

For example, she said with a smile, she'll re-record her dialogue to ensure everything is said correctly. "Polygamy" can be a hard word to say. She'll also clean up some of her editing. Throughout the project, Anna has been resourceful, using apps on her iPhone and school iPad to create animation and piece her documentary together.

Not only that, but she's also attempting to get in contact with the Lovings' lawyer, Philip Hirschkopp, who is still alive. She also wants to talk with interracial couples who faced similar challenges to the Lovings or remember the landmark case and its effects on them. She's called a lot of numbers, hit a lot of dead-ends, but she's still working at it.

Wendroth commented Barnum sophomore and junior students produced a lot of "amazing projects," and she was "proud of their work."

Other regional contestants were: Kyler Baker, Issac Golen, Madeleine Manahan, Raven Wilson, Breanna Jepson, Colby Beaulieu, Dalton Asproth, Morgan Langhorst, Key'onta Hayes, Annabel Lembke, Nicole Anderson, Meghan Liimatainen, Rebecca Thompson, Gabrielle Reinke-Mullenix, Anna Wikstrom, Jessica Schatz and Jennette Schmitt.


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