by ARIEL McRAE | Associate Editor
Black History Month is celebrated annually across the United States throughout the month of February. The celebration of Black History started in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Originally, there was only one week of commemoration for Black excellence and innovations. Dr. Woodson chose February because it contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas, two key figures in the history of Black Americans.
Since Congress passed Public Law 99-244, Black History Month has been celebrated nationally. Since 1996, all sitting presidents have issued annual proclamations for National Black History Month and Congress has regularly passed resolutions honoring the sacred month.
Humboldt City Schools celebrated Black History Month in a big way last week with all three schools participating in programs designated to shine a light on things pertinent to Black American History.
Stigall Primary School had their students and staff put on a program highlighting the famous Cotton Club, where jazz music reigned. The club has a sordid history since it only allowed black entertainment but not black patrons until 1935, but the talent that graced its doors was indescribable. All the most popular black entertainers and musicians of the era played on the stage and created new sounds still mimicked today.
Stigall students performed musical numbers for their parents, including ending the show with a rendition of “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing,” complete with bongos and swing dancing.
At East Elementary School, the students gathered in the halls to have their own parade for Fat Tuesday in honor of Mardis Gras and Black History Month. Teachers selected some students to participate in the parade while others lined the walls to catch beads being tossed. The kids designed their own masks and wore them during the event while blowing on horns and listening to jazz music fill the halls. Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School cheerleaders and the Humboldt Pride Band brought up the rear of the parade dancing and playing, while tossing the rest of the
beads to the students awaiting hands. East Elementary kids also enjoyed pancakes for breakfast in honor of Fat Tuesday also being Pancake Day. Monday, East hosted another Black History program to finish out the month honoring those who won the essay-writing contest among other awards.
Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School finished the week of celebration by holding a program in the high school gym for all the students and invited guests. Several students gave presentations during the event honoring what it means to be black in America in both the past and the present. Students performed poems about embracing and loving the power of melanin, rapped a song about rising and celebrating culture, and one student even performed a moving interpretive dance with traditional African movements to Cynthia Erivo’s song, “Stand Up.” The Humboldt Gig Band played jazz music during the event as well.
Marquita Patterson gave the proclamation at the program, as the first black secretary to a mayor in Humboldt as well as the first black woman ever in Humboldt history to hold the office of city clerk. She talked about key points in Black History that lead black Americans where they are today and where they are going in the future.
The program ended with a brief honoring of this year’s Valued Vikings, which included five retiring teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and
Black History Month is full of rich culture, and that history was celebrated highly by the Humboldt City Schools System. With the month ending, it is great to know Humboldtans honored such an important month and are already looking forward to celebrating more history next year and for many years to come.