The UT Elementary School gymnasium was abuzz with music, dancing and poetry readings during the Black History Month celebration on Friday, Feb. 16. The event, organized by Fifth-Grade Teacher Erin Green, took the Little Longhorns back in time through interactive learning exercises and performances—from the pre-Civil War era to the golden age of rhythm and blues to the Civil Rights Movement.
Paying homage to African American artists and activists, the students danced to a rendition of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” by legendary R&B singer and songwriter Rufus Thomas. The performers also read poems, book chapters and speech excerpts penned by pivotal figures in the Civil Rights Movement.
Guest speaker Emmett Hays engaged his young audience with a lively historical overview of Black History Month, stating, “Black history is American history.” He took the students back to the origins of the nationally recognized month, which dates back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson advocated for public recognition and celebration of African Americans. Hays also shared some background into the transatlantic slave trade and its effects on modern day society.
The festivities continued on into the afternoon with performances commemorating Etta James and other musical greats. They also performed May Angelou’s “Still I Rise” and posted their original poems inspired by her work on the cafeteria wall for others to read.
The Black History Month celebration is a part of the school’s robust social justice curriculum designed to teach students important lessons in respect, empathy and collaboration.