By Asiah Harris, student at Richmond Hill High School.
African American History Month, better known as Black History Month, is a time that historically reflects the contributions people of African descent have made to our country.
President Gerald R. Ford once said, “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
African Americans should not only be acknowledged for their contributions, but upholding their traditions, honoring the triumphs and struggles they’ve faced within American society.
Black History Month isn’t just about all the bad times we’ve been through. It’s about integrity, leadership and determination.
On Feb. 28, Richmond Hill High School honored Black History Month by having its first black history assembly and second annual Black History Month celebration.
The celebration started with the singing of the Black National Anthem by RHHS sophomore John Grimes. The anthem led into riveting spoken words from various members of the Diversity Club about activists that have paved the way for African Americans today.
The assembly ended with a heart-wrenching performance from the RHHS dance team, to the song “Glory” by John Legend, choreographed by junior Ma’kayla Ross.
When asked what motivated her to choreograph such a powerful dance and showcase it to the school, Ross replied, “Black History Month is very important to me. I love knowing my history and heritage. Since (RHHS dance teacher Joy) Roberts gave me the opportunity to choreograph, it led me to show the school that black history is about the struggles we have to face, but at the end we can see the glory.”
The goal of the assembly was to showcase the determination of past heroes and their journey towards paving a way for future generations. One way black history was represented at Richmond Hill High School in the month of February was implementing it in the social studies department lesson plans. This decision was made because Principal Debi McNeal wanted students to understand the significance of black history.
McNeal collaborated with Assistant Principal Matthew Landolt, who is involved in the culture, community and positive interactions aspects, junior Ma’Kayla Ross, and the social studies department to implement black history into the students’ lessons.
The head of the department and history teacher Keith Forkin gave insight on the process of including black history in the teachers’ lesson plan.
“Principal McNeal sat down with Landolt, Ross and I to discuss using social studies as a platform for the black history assembly,” he said. “We started preparations toward the assembly with the ninth-graders by having certain days like biography day, literary day and culture day. These days were focused solely on Black History Month and people who broke barriers in African American history.”
The incorporation of black history into the daily lesson plans educated students on the importance of Black History month and its heroes throughout the month of February.
The festivities didn’t stop there. After school, the Diversity Club hosted a show that included special guests, including Mrs. Karen Boles-Grant, who is a leader in the Richmond Hill African American community and a pastor at Bryan Neck Presbyterian Church located on Hwy 144.
Boles-Grant told an enriching story about being the first black student at Richmond Hill High School and said she currently dedicates her time helping with incarceration cases for teens in the Bryan-Chatham county area.
The show also included percussionist father-son duo Baba Abu Majied and Yusuf Major and saxophonist Darryl Anderson. The celebration ended with a fashion show and dance finale, which consisted of cultural pieces from Latino/ Hispanic, Carribean and African cultures. The end of the show was met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Black history is inspiring and rooted deep within our culture and community. The multiple platforms used to inform the students and our community of black history will surely rise to the occasion for a bigger celebration next year.
Observing the Black History Month celebration on Feb. 28 gave people of different backgrounds an opportunity to learn about the past and people who have paved a way for many African Americans today.
Assistant Principal Landolt offered more information about the future of Black History in school.
“The discussion to have a black history assembly began last school year and has been in the planning since last winter,” he said. “We recognized it was essential to start from a strong foundation and ultimately it was Ma’Kayla Ross’ vision that provided the blueprint for the event.”
As we honor and celebrate the achievements of many African American heroes at Richmond Hill High School during Black History Month, let us continue to strive to honor the legacy and efforts of these trail blazers and create a legacy of our own.