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FHHS Black History program sends powerful message

During the sixth annual Forest Hills Black History program, the FHHS Chorus sang Shosholoza, a traditional South African folk song. East Union Middle students Abreayah Burch and Kadasha Davis perform a praise dance during the program. (Below) FHHS senior Samantha Davidson, 18, shares her poetry.

Forest Hills High School held its annual black history celebration recently, one that honored many and offered a unique twist.

The theme of this year’s program was “Behind the Scenes of Black History.” It involved between 50 to 75 FHHS students, as well as eighth graders from East Union Middle School.

The production included skits, singing and dancing, students reciting their poetry, and tributes to such individuals as Nelson Mandela.

The Forest Hills Theatre Department performed a skit titled “Dreams Began With Dreamers,” which focused on famous African Americans such as Sidney Poitier, Muhammad Ali, George Washington Carver and Mae Jemison.

The Forest Hills Chorus sang Shosholoza, a traditional South African folk song.
Part of the program, “Escape to Freedom,” offered a bit of history. “Our ancestors couldn’t speak when they were in the cotton fields, so they had to make up spiritual songs to communicate with each other. That’s what ‘Escape to Freedom’ is about,” said ISS Coordinator Vadia Smith, one of the organizers of the event.

“We also honored several community members that have paved the way and open doors for many of our students today,” said FHHS Assistant Principal Adrien Porter, another organizer.

“We’re honoring retired teachers, principals, sheriff’s deputies, police officers and people who help keep us safe in this community and who have contributed to this community,” Smith said.

“We were trying to pull out people who are not always in the limelight,” Smith said.  “Our theme this year was trying to incorporate the message to ‘Be who you are. Know who you are. You are better than people may say you are, no matter your deficiencies, no matter what color skin you have’.”

What made the program unique, however – it wasn’t just about African Americans. “We incorporated not just African Americans in our Black History program, we have whites and Hispanics, because here at Forest Hills, we’re all a family,” Smith said. “We’re all the same.”

The program honored not only freedom fighters and athletes, but leaders and public servants as well. “We wanted to honor everyone who has been positive icons in the African American community, whether you’re white or black, it doesn’t matter,” Smith said.

“As I’ve explained to our students, black people just didn’t help black people,” Smith said. “Caucasian people helped us as well. It’s not just one culture. It’s everybody. We all live in a world together.”

For 18-year-old Samantha Davidson, a FHHS senior who shared her poetry in the program, the message of the program is clear.

“Don’t take anything for granted, because we didn’t always have these freedoms, and now that you do, you need to appreciate them and take every opportunity given to you,” Samantha said.

“We’ve come such a long way,” Samantha added. “It’s time we come together as a unit, shine a light on it and celebrate it. We need to celebrate anyone who had someone in their family who fought for this; fought for us to be able to walk the streets care free; to have all these privileges like education; to be able to speak our minds and be heard.”

The program was a school wide collaboration with contributions from various departments such as Fine Arts, CTE, EC, Athletics, Administration, and participation from East Union.

The program involved many Forest Hills staff members, but was spearheaded by Smith, EC teacher Deborah Robinson and Porter.

When all was said and done, the Forest Hills sixth Annual Black History program was a huge success. Students performed a total of three shows – two during the day for students, and one evening performance for the community.

“All in all this was another memorable and historic moment at Forest Hills High School,” Porter said.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Mar 20, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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