Students honored by "Museum of the Courageous" for fighting to change their history books

Courageous 5th graders combat hate with unity
Courageous 5th graders combat hate with unity... 01:40

CBS News is recognizing people who are trying to right injustices and bring communities together in a new series, Unifying America. "CBS Evening News" got a look at the Museum of the Courageous, a nonprofit that honors those who stand up to hate. 

Years ago, a class of fifth-grade students marched into California's state Capitol to testify and rewrite their history books. Now, as we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., those students are receiving a special award for taking Dr. King's message of racial justice to heart. 

Now 16, Nicole Sandavol was one of the fifth-graders fighting to have their textbooks tell the missing story of the mass deportations of Mexican Americans in the 1930s. She and her fellow students are among the first nine honorees of the "Museum of the Courageous" — a new, online nonprofit that highlights those who stand up to hate. 

As fifth graders, the students testified about their history books. CBS News

"What we're trying to do is build a group of people compelled and inspired and ready to stand up to hate," said Teresa Vazquez, the museum's executive director and founding trustee. 

"The story of the courageous class really offers us inspiration and a pathway forward," Vazquez added.  

Other members of the "Courageous Class" include Vernon Dahmer, a Mississippi civil rights leader who was murdered by the KKK as he fought for Black citizens to freely vote; and Pauli Murray, a priest and pioneer for gender and racial equality. 

When asked how she hopes her story will inspire unity in the nation, Sandavol said that "I think that everyone in this country should feel that they belong, that they matter, and that their voice is valued." 

  • Nikki Battiste
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    Nikki Battiste is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.