NEW YORK - In recognition of Black History Month, Verizon will conduct a unique interactive art educational program that pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Through the program, called The Verizon Black History Month Celebration Tour, selected schools in four cities will receive computers, educational software, and African American-authored and themed children's books. Workshops will be conducted in which elementary- and middle-school visual and "spoken word" artists will create a virtual mural-rendition of the bus boycott.
The tour, which begins later this month, will visit New York, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. Acclaimed actor and Verizon spokesman James Earl Jones will kick-off the program in New York, along with Faith Ringgold, one of the featured Scholastic book authors, who also creates quilts that depict African American history. At the kickoff, Ringgold will display images of her quilts and read an excerpt from her children's book, "If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks."
Verizon will donate 10 computers, educational software, and printers to three schools in each city -- a donation totaling more than $100,000 to 12 schools. Scholastic, Inc., the global children's publishing and media company, working in partnership with Verizon Reads, the company's national literacy umbrella organization, is donating more than 3,600 books, including copies of Ringgold's book about the bus boycott.
"The Verizon Black History Month Celebration Tour is special because it pays homage to a landmark event of great historical significance, while celebrating the creative expression of our young people," said Bob Ingalls, president of Verizon's Retail Markets. "Through this program, Verizon demonstrates its commitment to supporting the cause of literacy, education and technology in underserved communities."
In each market, Soul Poetry Café, a group of professional "spoken word" artists, will develop interactive poetry reading and writing sessions for students. In addition, the students will receive training from the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which produces, preserves and conducts educational programs about community based public artwork. After each workshop, students will use their new computers to create a virtual mural to tell their own stories about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Each of the 12 schools will contribute to the development of the final mural, submitting students' still photos, artwork and videotaped poetry performances. In addition, SPARC will produce portable murals for the participating schools.
Upon completion, Verizon will display The Verizon Black History Month Celebration Tour virtual mural on its Web site at www.verizon.com/blackhistorymonth. Also on the Web site, the company will make its unique Black History Month curriculum available to teachers around the world.
Verizon's Consortium of Information and Telecommunications Executives (CITE), an African- American professional growth and community service employee group, will assist the schools with computer support and Web site development.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. With a diverse work force of approximately 208,000, Verizon has four business units: Domestic Telecom serves customers based in 29 states with wireline telecommunications services, including broadband, nationwide long-distance and other services. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 42.1 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.