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Black History Month program urges students to look to future

Members of the Castle Heights Middle School step team display the stepping style of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, a black Greek organization, as part of the "I'm Next" Black History Month celebration at the school Wednesday.
Members of the Castle Heights Middle School step team display the stepping style of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, a black Greek organization, as part of the "I'm Next" Black History Month celebration at the school Wednesday.

"You're next!" students on stage at Castle Heights Middle School shouted to their classmates at the end of a Black History Month performance Wednesday.

The performance, which included black, white, male and female students from all grade levels, was designed to connect black history to the present and the future.

Famous names such as Malcolm X and Dorothy Dandridge came alive on stage alongside prominent black leaders such as Condoleezza Rice and Barack Obama, giving students a glimpse at those who paved the way for modern-day black successes.

"With me, coming from African descent, I learned more and more, and I came closer and closer with my history," said Thrista Johnson, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who gave an attitude-filled impersonation of author Maya Angelou.

Students got a crash course in black culture, learning about the spiritual songs of slaves, hip hop, lindy hop and breakdancing.

The school's step team performed the routines of historically black fraternities and sororities, and student emcees told students about the social and political contributions of those organizations.

Students got a chance to see how their daily lives would be affected if there were no black people. Pencil sharpeners, lawn mowers, sprinklers and elevators were among the things performers said were created by black inventors.

They might not know where they want to go to college or what they want to be when they grow up, but the students who participated in Wednesday's celebration know they will make their mark on history.

"I learned that I can also make a difference in the world and that I can let my voice be heard," said Morgan Jackson, one of two eighth-graders who learned a lengthy script to emcee the event.

"I am proud to call myself an African-American."

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