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Black History celebrated at Benton Heights Elementary School of Arts

Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts is taking a unique approach to the celebration of Black History Month by taking its audience through time travels of historic figures through a production titled “A Journey Through Time.” Pictured are some of the cast involved in the Feb. 18, 2010, production.

Black History Month is being celebrated by schools throughout the Union County Public Schools system this month. Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts is taking a unique approach to the celebration by taking its audience through time travels back to the early origins of African Americans.
The journey will begin with a 6:30 p.m. program titled “A Journey Through Time” held in the school’s auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010. It journals the African American experience from slavery to President Barack Obama.
“We’re starting out beginning in Africa,” said program director and event organizer Janice Brown, a teacher assistant at the school. “We’ll end up with a museum of 21st Century African Americans that our kids know.”
The program’s planning began last October when Brown and fellow staffers Lindsey Stewart, Ebony Johnson and Stephanie Shiver, met and decided to take a journey through history.
“It’s been a collaborative effort. We’ve worked really hard,” Brown said. “I am very pleased with the results. I was getting pretty stressed out initially, but then the students got involved and they’re so excited.”
The program begins with the school’s chorus leading the audience in the Black National Anthem born in the Civil Rights era, “ Lift Every Voice and Sing.” This will be followed by students performing traditional African dances, with the help of the drummers from the Charlotte Community Drummers Ensemble. 
“From there you have teachers and students coming together to sing songs of slavery,” Brown said. “With the Drills of Hope group from Charlotte, the school will embrace the foundation of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Then you have an array of performances from poetry, dancing, singing, music, and art to represent the Era of The Harlem Renaissance.”
The production will deal with the start of desegregation, noting such figures as Ruby Bridges, the first child who helped desegregate schools; and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who sued a law school in Maryland in 1933 for not admitting black students. 
Students and teachers will be dressed as famous African Americans from the 21st century, including Dr. Mae. C. Jemison, the first African American astronaut, and President Barack Obama. These will fill the stage as a Black History Museum. “This will be a night to remember for our students, staff and parents,” Brown said.
Some of the entertainment will include the Charlotte Community Drummers Ensemble, The Angels of Langford comprised of high school students from Langford Chapel CME, dancer Kiandra Jeffries a Charlotte native, and the Union County musical group called Full Court and approximately 100 Benton Heights students and teachers.
The auditorium is decorated with student artwork based on the works of Romare Beardon, an African American artist from Charlotte, whose art medium is collages.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 18, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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