“I am from Liberia!” chanted the class of pre-kindergarteners dawning makeshift paper ponchos with the country’s flag, accented by their own colorful scribbles. The small children were given the big task of leading their school’s Black History Month parade.
Young Audiences Charter School at Lawrence D. Crocker kicked off Black History Month by hosting a school-wide parade on Friday (Feb. 3). Crocker celebrated the cultures of the African diaspora with each grade, pre-kindergarten to 8th grade, representing an African country or city. Comprised mainly of African-American, Hispanic, and Afro-Latino students, the school emphasizes diversity and cultural pride.
Principal Xaviera Ingram saw the parade as an opportunity to “showcase [Black] history, starting with our roots, where it originated, bringing it through to our city and community.”
Countries such as Liberia, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda were depicted through colorful sashes, face painting, and props. The 8th-grade class had the honor of representing New Orleans by marching alongside the Baby Dolls and Black Masking Indians. The Crocker Wildcats majorettes and marching band trailed behind, completing the parade.
Festivities aside, Black History Month amplifies the need for conversations about identity, culture, and community among students and staff at Crocker.
“I don’t want anybody not to know where their roots are,” middle school special education teacher Ventress Johnson said. “It would be hard for us to come together as different groups of people if we don’t understand where each other comes from.”
While some schools fight against efforts to limit the teaching of Black history, 4th grade English language arts and social studies teacher Tiffony Pierce emphasized the importance of doing so year-round. “It cultivates a sense of identity,” Pierce said.”If we want to produce citizens who are productive and see themselves in a positive light, then understanding and knowing our history is crucial to making that happen.”
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