The Delaware African American Heritage Council and Delaware City Schools celebrated Black History Month Wednesday with a virtual presentation featuring student projects.
The presentation aired on Facebook Live and was titled “Soldiers on a Journey Through Black History.” The event was the third annual Black History Month Celebration hosted by the council and the school district. Previous events were held in the Willis Education Center auditorium, but this year’s event was held online due to the pandemic.
Melissa Harris, the heritage council’s co-chair and this year’s chair of the Black History Month Celebration Committee, welcomed viewers to the celebration: “Although under different circumstances this year, our students have still worked through the challenges of COVID and social distancing to ponder what it means to be a soldier, specifically a soldier on a journey through Black History,” she said.
During an opening statement, Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley said the district was thankful for the council’s partnership in making the event happen this year.
“I wish we could all be together in the Willis auditorium to celebrate and honor the work of our students,” Kegley said. “We are grateful for the collaboration and communication between Delaware African American Heritage Council and Delaware City Schools. We look forward to our continued momentum and partnership, and our focus on diversity, equity and inclusivity.”
Dempsey Singers and Hayes senior soloist Jackson Collins performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in honor of Black History Month, and the program proceeded to showcase projects about Black history done by Delaware students.
Emcees Ava Johnson and Molly Hornberger introduced the projects, adding they focused on activists, performers, actors, athletes, and the history of the NAACP.
The first project presented was from Camille Churn in the form of a slideshow with music.
“All Black people are soldiers,” Churn said in her presentation. “Not necessarily because we chose to be but because that’s reality … Racism is still happening. It’s important to educate yourself and address issues that others face even if you haven’t experienced the issue.”
Churn encouraged Black people to “be soldiers” in the face of adversity and unfairness.
“Fight for what you believe in and don’t just let immaturity and ignorance go without being checked,” Churn said.
Fourth grader Camila Lopez Paz presented a storybook she made about a man who goes to get coffee and has a conversation with a racist employee.
“Remember we are not different or perfect, we are all the same even if you are black, white, green, purple or another color,” Paz said at the end of the book. “Don’t treat persons for how they look, but instead for what they are.”
Aila Agyekum gave a presentation about Augustus Jackson, who worked as chef in the White House and became an ice cream maker. Agyekum closed the presentation with a message to viewers.
“We need to be all one together,” Agyekum said. “The past hasn’t been the greatest, but we can make the future better. So let’s stand together as classmates, people, friends, family, whoever, and care about each other.”
Lindsey Page closed the program with a poem titled “How Black History Will View You.”
“This year, Black suffering saw much publicity,” Page said during her poem. “But this alone does not count as a victory. This month I want the world to see that we are still making Black history and think when America looks back on today, how will they view those who fought for equality’s delay and those who chose to pave new pathways. Will you fight to build something beautiful and new or uphold systems that suppress the many and glorify the few. As you make the choice between the two, I hope you consider how Black history will view you.”
The entire presentation can be viewed on the Delaware African American Heritage Council’s Facebook page.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.