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SHS Students Present Black History Program

On March 2, Smithville High School students presented their own program to their peers for Black History Month, which featured turning point events from the past 100 years towards racial equality.

U.S. History teacher, Ms. Leona Jones decided that this year, Smithville’s own students should present a Black History Month program, rather than bringing in outside parties. Ms. Jones also felt that the past presentations were too “young” for the campus.

“I felt that our African American students at SHS should have a voice in this celebration of their heritage and I wanted it to be at a higher level of thought; more age appropriate for high school,” said Ms. Jones.

The process took time on the part of Ms. Jones and on interested students recruited initially from those who participated in January’s Bastrop County MLK Walk in Elgin. They carefully looked at a timeline of history before deciding to feature “a chronology of the African Americans struggle for civil rights,” said Ms. Jones.

Then she started writing a detailed script, starting with the era of slavery and ending with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Being a U.S. History teacher it seemed fitting that I would write the script incorporating dialogue, speeches, and information about the various African Americans and specific events highlighted in the civil rights movement,” said Ms. Jones.

Students LaNadia McIntyre and Sekedra Moore were the co-directors; casting the roles, scheduling practices, and working on the stage set up, said Ms. Jones.

The program began with an overview of Black History Month, narrated by Sekedra Moore and Tyra Shaw. Following were “a museum of people, places, and events of African Americans and their struggle to achieve civil rights in America.”

The program included a comparison of freed slave Booker T. Washington and Harvard educated freeman WEB DuBois, and a poetry reading of Langston Hughes’ work. Students read excerpts from writings by gold medalist runner Jesse Owens, baseball player Jackie Robinson, and Ruby Bridges the first black student to attend white schools. Skits showed Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus and angry white students who didn’t want to integrate Central High in Arkansas.

A narrative from Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X also talked about the troubled 1960s. Students performed a step dance representing the Black Power movement and the three women of NASA who were recently portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures, before students performed the Praise Dance to “How the Caged Bird Sings.”

The final words of the script read “Until the contributions of minority groups are the focal points of history books rather than footnotes, the need for a Black History Month, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month and the like will remain strong.”
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