A Scotts Valley youngster has taken it upon herself to educate her peers about discrimination, civil rights and racism – and the campaign has caught on at a state and even national level.
Mercedes Malloy, a 13-year-old Coast Redwood Charter School 7th grader, has developed a 1 ½ hour presentation explaining what happened in the holocaust and has tied the story into the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement and discrimination in the U.S. and South Africa.
“Not many kids today believe that (the holocaust) happened because there’s not (much) living history or documentation,” Malloy said.
One of her inspirations is Gitta Spindel Ryle – a holocaust survivor who lives in Santa Cruz. Malloy met her and has talked with her to learn her story – which includes being separated from her family who were killed in concentration camps during World War II.
Ryle, who also presents her story to schools in the Bay Area, is a fan of Malloy’s passion and work.
“I think she’s doing a wonderful job,” said Ryle. “I want to reach as many kids as possible while I am still alive, because when I die there will be very little voice.”
Malloy gave the presentation to Baymonte Christian School 6th, 7th and 8th graders during an assembly on April 17. As a 4-H member, Malloy’s presentation has earned a Gold Award for outstanding youth leadership through the organization. She is scheduled to give the presentation in July and November in Davis in front of the 4-H state board and believes that the presentation might catch on nationally.
Malloy’s presentation begins with “Without Michelangelo,” a song by Grammy winner Jen Foster. Malloy met Foster in Felton and told her about the project. Foster offered the use of the song because the themes of war and civil rights coincided with the presentation so closely.
Malloy’s passion is evident in the presentation which she has spent more than 202 hours working on and perfecting.
“It is our job that this does not happen again because this is our future” Malloy said. “We need to learn from the mistakes of the Nazi’s and understand to make the future the best it can be.”