Students, faculty, and staff at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy celebrated the history and culture of African-Americans throughout February during a series of assemblies and activities marking Black History Month.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that it was important for students to learn about the history of African-Americans and to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans.
"Learning about the past and learning particularly about black history is necessary for us to grow and move forward in a positive manner," she said. "I commend our faculty, staff, and students for devoting the time to learning about an important part of our history and culture."
Proviso East marked the month with activities that included a series of trivia questions on famous African-Americans and a spoken word contest that culminated in an assembly on February 25. The assembly featured selections by the Proviso East jazz band, the singing of the black national anthem by the school’s choir, and a reading of the winning spoken word piece by Isis Morris. In her piece, Isis described the experience of an African being taken into slavery, but looking ahead to one day being free.
"I will survive, if God is willing," she said. "I will survive."
The Proviso East assembly also featured a town hall meeting in which students could ask questions of a panel that included Mr. Valdimir Talley, Maywood police chief; Mr. Glenn Sevier, a Proviso East social worker; and Mr. George Bunn, chair of the Proviso East social studies department. One question asked the panelists of how to stay safe in Maywood. Chief Talley said that youth can sign up for a mentoring program through the village and provide information to the police, among other suggestions.
Proviso West’s celebration included a trip to view the movie, "Selma," along with presentations by the school’s African-American Club. On February 20, Mr. Agin Muhammad, a psychology and criminal justice instructor at Chicago State University as well as a juvenile corrections officer in Cook County and a playwright, spoke to students about making the right choices in life. Those good choices, however, can be difficult to make due to the images of African-Americans in the media and in movies. He said that the students needed to help change those images.
"Surviving slavery was big, but you’re more than that," Mr. Muhammad said. "You have to do the work. Your future is determined by what you do today."
PMSA marked Black History Month with an assembly on February 23 that celebrated black history and culture. Students acted in original plays that discussed the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., told brief stories of notable African-Americans in science, literature, and other fields, and danced to popular music produced by African-Americans.
"Pick up a book – that’s the real liberation," students said.
For photos of Black History Month activities, please click here