Albany High Celebrates Black History Month
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If you were to walk into the Albany High library from periods four to eight this past February 15th, you would have been overwhelmed, both visually and viscerally. A band played lively jazz, a tap dancer could be seen working his magic on a portable piece of wood, and exhibitions attracted the interest of many curious students. This was the Albany High Black History Celebration.
Marcus Garvey once said that “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots”. This ideology was the driving inspiration behind the creation of the event, which was led by the AHS Health and Wellness Club. “It was a community event… the idea was to have more discussions about both our heritage and contemporary issues like racism and prejudice”, said one of the main organizers, school psychologist Dr. Liz Gialanella. “It went very well… kids got enlightened”.
Judging by students’ reactions, they truly were enlightened. One student reported that he was inspired to vote by the AHS Falcon Council and signed up to do so. Others reported being impressed by realizing the “real life examples” of everything going on. “Especially now, this kind of political event empowers those who aren’t in charge,” said Robert Baestlein, a junior here at Albany High.
There were certainly political undertones to the event. A Planned Parenthood group was distributing health information, many officers from the APD were present, and a plethora of African American groups like the NAACP were present. Culturally, there were several tables offering facts about countries rich with African heritage, the African American Cultural Center made an appearance, and the AHS Cosmetology program showed up to model contemporary fashion trends. There was also a myriad of historical material, with programs like the Underground Railroad History Project and a living history museum as well individuals giving the lowdown on everyone from Harriet Tubman to Sojourner Truth. As the students listened to lively jazz, they were free to wander about and visit the various stations for more information.
The highlight of the event was watching the tap dancer, Mwaikazi Lajas, work his magic on the wooden board, drawing a large a huge crowd with his stupefying and professional clicks and taps. All in all, the ambience created by the event was a melting pot; to me this whimsically reflected the message the creators were trying to get across, and the audience was indeed as diverse as the stands.
Speaking of the creators, recognition really must go out to the Health and Wellness Club: students Stenecia Pitt, Esther Paul, Christine Boamah-Mensah, Kahshema Sankey, Kahlema Sankey, Nina Opoku, and Mujidat Abijako along with their advisors Dr. Liz Gialanella and Ms. Emily Burr really put a lot of thought into an extremely fascinating event. Missed it this year? “It’ll be even better next time!” exclaimed Dr. Gialanella. Be sure to check it out; the event is definitely something worth seeing!