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Black History Month Celebration

Benton Heights students prepare for their production of "A Journey Through Time."

Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts took 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." The presentation was held on February 18.

The presentation chronicled the African American experience from slavery to President Barack Obama. "We began in Africa," said program director and event organizer Janice Brown, a teacher asistant at the school. "We ended 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 were so excited."

The program began 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 was followed by students performing traditional African dances, with the help of the drummers from the Charlotte Community Drummers Ensemble.

"From there you had teachers and students coming together to sing songs of slavery," Brown said. "With the Drills of Hope group from Charlotte, the school embraced the foundation of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Then there was an array of performances from poetry, dancing, singing, music, and art to represent the Era of The Harlem Renaissance."

The production dealt 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 dressed as famous African Americans from the 21st century, including Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first African American astronaut, and President Barack Obama. These filled the stage as a Black History Museum. "This was a night to remember for our students, staff, and parents," Brown said.

Some of the enternainment included the Charlotte Community Drummers Ensemble, The Angels of Langford comprised of high school students from Langford Chapel CME, dancer Kiandra Jeffires, a Charlotte native, the Union County musical group called Full Court and approximately 100 Benton Heights students and teachers.

The auditorium was 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 22, 2010 by Syble Isbister

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