Black History Month celebrated in various ways by local educators

Since 1976, Americans have designated February as Black History Month. Area educators plan activities to help students learn about the history and culture of African-Americans.

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Tammy Carter

Tammy Carter, director of multicultural affairs at William Woods University, said every month WWU celebrates a particular culture. She said February is the time to learn about African-Americans who have contributed to society and others who have helped the African-American cause.

“I think it’s very important to raise awareness to the issues the black community still faces,” Carter said.

Carter has planned some events throughout the month for the community and WWU students to attend to celebrate the African-American culture.

Delora Vaughn, media specialist at Bartley Elementary School, tries to dress up as a famous African-American every year to promote Black History Month at Bartley. In past years, she’s been Harriet Tubman, Oprah, Rosa Parks and Madam C.J. Walker, to name a few. Vaughn hasn’t decided who she wants to be this year, but she said students really enjoy it when she plays the characters. Some of the events she has planned include having an African-American dance troop perform for the students on Feb. 18, doing a “carry-in” on Feb. 22 where teachers get to enjoy food that is typically associated with the black culture, and having an African-American storyteller from St. Louis, Bobby Norfolk, visit the school. Norfolk will also visit Bush and McIntire Elementary Schools.

“Several years back, I saw this quote that said ‘It’s not just black history, it’s American history,’ and I feel that children need to learn black history, not just black children, but all children,” Vaughn said.

At South Callaway High School, Angie Thieret will kick off Black History Month by having her short story/novel class study Jim Crow laws. That will lead to reading “The Color Purple” and doing some role playing.

Anna Braxton, second grade teacher at Bush Elementary, has invited African-American, seventh-grader Aiyana Thompson to read a book she authored to Bush students on Feb. 11. Braxton said she will also decorate the school walls with black history information, a black history assembly will be held every Friday during February and many classroom teachers have lessons planned covering the topic.

She said the students live in an “integrated world” and that’s why it’s important they understand each other.

“I think we not only should teach black history in February,” Braxton said. “I think it should be taught throughout the year just like any other type of history.”

In celebration of Black History month, the Callaway County Library will have Christal Bruner present the life of Tom Bass, an African-American Missouri horseman.

“I’m going to try to bring up a lot of facts about him that maybe people don’t know,” Bruner said.

Bass was born near Ashland and trained horses in several areas of Missouri including Mexico and Kansas City. Bruner said Bass is most famous for inventing the bass bit and being able to train horses people thought couldn’t be trained.

Bruner will present Bass from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, at the library.

Events scheduled at WWU for Black History month that are also open to the public are as follows:

Dr. Howard Ramsey will present the exhibit, 101 Ways to Look at Black Writers, at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., Feb. 9 and 10, in the Ivy Room. This exhibit includes 100 photographs from Eugene B. Redmond’s extensive photographic collection of African-American writers. An audio component allows visitors to hear commentary about the photographs and to hear the featured poets reading selections from their work.

The movie “Crash,” will be shown at 3 p.m. Feb. 17, in the Library Auditorium.

The presentation “Why Can We All Just Get Along?” will be delivered at 3:30 p.m., Feb. 22, in Burton 100.

The movie “A Time to Kill,” will be shown at 4 p.m., Feb. 24, in the Library Auditorium.

Events scheduled at Westminster College are as follows:

At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Johnson College Inn there will be A Slam Poetry Coffee Shop by Robia Fields of St. Louis with a DJ Marlo White sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and the Black Student Association.

At 7 p.m. at the Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall there will be a showing of the film “Race and Illusions: Episode Two) sponsored by VOICES, the Office of Multicultural Student Development and the Emerson Center for Leadership and Service. “Race and Illusions: Episode Three) will be shown at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the same location, followed at 7 p.m. by a “Tough Questions” panel of experts who will speak on the topic of race sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and the Christian Leadership Board.

At 11 a.m. on Feb. 17 there will be a chapel service held at the College Chapel sponsored by the Black Student Association.

At 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall, the Black Student Association will host a movie night, with the movie to be determined later.

Starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 26 the Black Student Association will host a three on three basketball tournament in the Hunter Activity Center gymnasium.

The Black Student Association also is sponsoring a soul food dinner at 2 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Johnson College Inn.

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