A student-led Black History Month celebration at a local charter school featured an array of colorful dress, lively music and enthusiastic performers.
Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, dedicated to providing education, life skills programs, and support services to immigrants hosted the celebration on March 2. It is an annual showcase that has been occurring for decades.
“The Black History Month Celebration, a rich celebration of our students’ heritage, expands learning beyond the classroom,” Allison Kokkoros, executive director and CEO for the school told the AFRO in an email. “It offers a way for students to understand each other cross-culturally, which translates directly to the workplace. It also builds cultural competencies giving students an important lens for seeing the community around them.”
According to Mandy Toomey, communications coordinator for Carlos Rosario, the student body’s largest population is composed of El Salvadorians and Ethiopians make up the second largest population.
D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) spoke about local historic African Americans, and the new Director of the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs, Mamadou Samba, who is originally from Senegal.
“Culture and history are important no matter where you come from,” Samba told the crowd of more than 400 students.
Student emcees for the event included Adenike Adeliyi of Nigeria and Mohammed Mohammed of Tanzania.
Kokkoros gave the welcoming remarks. Adenike, a fashion designer and seamstress, dressed in clothing of her own design, recited a poem about Africa that was followed by a traditional dance. African American students reenacted Rosa Park’s bus protest in Montgomery, Ala.
“These Black History Month events present a great opportunity for our students to share with each other their cultural heritage and traditions and to educate all on important moments in history,” said Kokkoros.
Students also presented an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which included a fashion display and traditional dance performance during which one Ethiopian student ran up on stage and wowed the crowd with his dance moves. Students also educated the audience with Brazilian samba and Afro-Cuban dance performances. Following a video display of Moroccan culture and Moroccan dance, the School’s men’s choir, comprised of teachers and school leaders, led the crowd in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
A presentation of flags from 33 different African countries, representing students and staff at the school, concluded the program.
According to a press release, students Adenike Adeliyi from Nigeria and Mohammed Mohammed from Tanzania emceed the event. Both are in a beginning level English class.
“I like to help with these events because it’s another chance to improve my English… This school has helped me so much, I want to pay it back,” Mohammed said.