Rachel Vardi: Local Leader

Rachel Vardi is a resident of Edgemont who has developed a Curriculum about The 1937 Cockburn’s Deed Covenant Trial and Joshua Cockburn’s life for Edgemont Junior/Senior High School’s eighth grade students. She was a rising sophomore (remote learning at the time) during the summer of 2020 when she first learned of my work. Rachel was interested in learning about Edgemont’s connection to Black History as a result of her interest in The Black Lives Matter Movement. In an effort to learn more about her town’s history with the Black community, she discovered my website.

At first Rachel attempted to name the Edgemont school auditorium after the Cockburns, as well as include a history display case outside of it. Like many Edgemont residents she had noticed the anchor on Fort Hill Road, but now that she knew there was a story of racial injustice attached to it she was hopeful her efforts would help forge a connection for Edgemont students to learn about a part of American History that is mostly unknown. Rachel offered an explanation for why Cockburn’s story was important to her: “It is important that our community learns about our past. It is only by increasing education of our unjust past that we can move forward together in order to create a more inclusive future. ” Though Rachel was unable to name the auditorium in the face of school policies, she came to believe a school curriculum would, after all, be a much more beneficial outcome. She worked with the school’s administration to push the idea forward and presented her proposal in front of the entire faculty to get their support. Rachel devised a three day curriculum that she taught to Edgemont eighth graders. She is going to be a senior at Edgemont High this year (2022-2023), so Edgemont’s middle school teachers will carry on with the curriculum about the Cockburns after she departs Edgemont for college.

Rachel is thrilled that her community has dedicated the time and resources to continue to educate students about Edgemont’s history. Rachel also has begun to work with the Director of Westchester Center for Racial Equity in order to expand her curriculum past just the Edgemont school district. She is currently working on a curriculum for elementary school students at the Westchester YMCA, and has already presented to high school students there as well. Writers need readers and I am pleased to have a person like Rachel discover my work and use it to educate young people about important stories like The Cockburn’s Deed Covenant Trial and Joshua Cockburn’s life before the trial. In an era of increasing censorship of civil rights history and stories about that history, Rachel Vardi is shedding light on darkness. Thank You, Rachel.

1 Comment

Filed under 20th Century Civil Rights Incidents in Westchester County New York, Civil Rights in Scarsdale-Westchester County- New York, Joshua Cockburn

One response to “Rachel Vardi: Local Leader

  1. Fran Howe

    This is a great story. So glad you shared it.
    Young people being encouraged this way to develope a curriculum will educate so many other young people. And share the story more than a name on the auditorium.

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