Norfolk Public Schools: Proud to Celebrate Black History Month
February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central roles they have played in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Here’s a brief history of how Black History Month came to be: Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), considered a pioneer in the study of African American history, is given much of the credit for bringing Black History Month to the forefront. The son of former slaves, Carter Woodson spent his childhood working in coal mines and quarries. Yet, he was a resilient, talented young man who readily grasped the life-changing power of a good education. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He was the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, a feat he accomplished in 1912.
Dr. Woodson lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African American history, which began in February 1926 with Negro History Week. The program was later expanded and renamed Black History Month. (Dr. Woodson had chosen February for the initial weeklong celebration to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.)
Notably, Woodson's accomplishments are also remembered through the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies.
In Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) our students and staff are proud to participate in celebrating February as Black History Month. Below is a sampling of some of the engaging events and programs that are happening in NPS.
Blair Middle School – Art students will be working with all grades to create artwork in the style of Alma Thomas, the first African American female to have her artwork hung in the White House. On Feb. 27 and 28, students will attend the Naro Movie Theater to watch the movie “Harriet,” the story of Harriet Tubman who helped free hundreds of slaves from the South after escaping slavery herself in 1849. BMS students also will be participating in a Black History door decorating contest and morning announcements will share some compelling stories of African Americans’ contributions to U.S. History. BMS staff members will hold a Soul Food Celebration on Feb. 26.
Booker T. Washington High School – A fine arts program will be held on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. featuring the school’s chorus, theatre students and dance troupe. In addition, a community event with the BTW Theatre Academy students, New Calvary Baptist Church, Norfolk State University and Public Works VA/Virginia Stage Company will be held on Feb. 28 and Feb. 29 at BTW.
Mary Calcott Elementary School’s 5th grade chorus and 4th grade gifted students will perform a short Black History performance on Feb. 28 for the school’s students. The performance will be about a little boy who is given a box of memorabilia by his grandmother. He goes through the box and finds a special item linked to famous African Americans. Lines and a song will be performed after each African American is revealed.
Crossroads School students are involved in making a movie, called “Moving Through Black History,” that will debut on Friday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. for Family Movie Night. Many local and world renowned African American heroes will be celebrated in this movie and each grade level will participate in this effort.
Ingleside Elementary School will host a Black History Program on Thursday, February 27 at 6 p.m. Some of the highlights of this event will include a dramatic reading of Langston Hughes’ class poem “Harlem;” an in-depth look at the five-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, that became a pivotal force behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965; performances of such songs as “This Little Light of Mine” and “We are the World;” and an interpretive dance to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Larchmont Elementary School students will be involved producing and performing in a musical on the “Greensboro Four.” The musical is based on a play written by Dee Crisco, the school’s assistant principal, the title of which is “Freedom on the Menu- How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down”. The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests against a segregated lunch counter that were held in 1960. The play will take place on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.
Lindenwood Elementary School will host a “Celebrate the Roots” program on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in the auditorium. The first half of the program will consist of African folk music, African-American spirituals, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean music. In the second half of the program, some students will do a tribute dance to songs from the 1960s to more modern times. All of the music will center around celebrating the African/African-American heritage.
Norview High School students and staff will dress as a famous African Americans for the four weeks of Black History Month. In week one, the focus will be on those who have had an impact in math, sciences and literature; in week two, the focus will be on the military; in week three, the dress will be focused on the arts and sports; and finally, during week four participants will focus on dressing as those who have had an impact in business. In addition, biographies and images of African Americans who have made important contributions to our country and the world will also be posted throughout the school. Finally, a culminating event will be hold on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. to highlight the contributions of African Americans in the arts. This event will involve student performances in the arts (dance, poetry, spoken word and music).
Tidewater Park Elementary School, with the support of Coastal Virginia Community Development, LLC, is kicking off Black History Month with a week full of meaningful activities. With the theme of “We Are One,” School Unity Week is certain to prove engaging for students. Here is a brief glimpse of what is happening at 1045 E. Brambleton Avenue Feb. 3-7:
- On Monday, Feb. 3, students will receive special wristbands, take the school unity pledge and the attire will be Black History Month Civil Rights Heroes.
- On Tuesday, Feb. 4 there will be a Community Day featuring community leaders who will judge Celebrity Dress-Up Day and distribute prizes.
- Wednesday, Feb. 5 will feature a Resource Fair highlighting various community resources for families and students.
- Thursday, Feb. 6 will be Kobe Bryant-Famous Athlete Day. Students will come to school dressed as their favorite sports heroes and community leaders will visit classrooms to offer encouraging words to students,
- On Friday, Feb. 7, Tidewater Park will host a School Unity and Anti-Bullying Rally. Karen Dixon of WAVY-TV will be the host for this inspirational event. Highlights of the rally will include the Booker T. Washington High School Drum Line; the Granby High School cheerleaders; a College Greek Fraternity & Sorority Step Routine for School Unity; special videotaped messages from local and national role models; a video collage of the week; and of course, the School Unity Pledge.
Academy for Discovery at Lakewood has kicked off Black History Month with a daily Who Am I? trivia game on the morning announcements. This provides students with information about notable biographies of African Americans. In the school’s cafeteria A Journey Through Time with MUSIC program involves a music playlist that captures different decades of many genres of African American artists. Students are invited to share names of artists they know and learn about artists they don’t know through the use of the dry erase graffiti board station, set up behind the speaker in the cafeteria. This is happening during all lunches, from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Students are singing along and enjoying new musical experiences. In addition, there is an Art in a Suitcase mobile museum in the library (on loan from Hampton University); a Biography Board introducing different African Americans and their contributions to this country; a door decorating contest commemorating the month; a Cultural Spirit week (2/24-2/28) that celebrates Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and a program on February 26 at 5:30, p.m. Living History Museum: A Journey Through Time, 1619-2020 (with student performers).