Black History Month Celebrated in Speech, Dance, and Food
Feb 10, 2012
February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month, an observance of black history, culture, and significant persons. To celebrate, the Roanoke Valley Campus held a Black History Appreciation event for students, faculty, and guests. It included a stirring recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech by Leo Dow. Also included was a rhythm and dance performance by the famous Westside Elementary School Step Team and a message on the importance of voting by guest speaker Sherman Lea, Vice Mayor of the City of Roanoke. Additionally, Stark Jones, the owner of J&B Restaurant in Roanoke, prepared “soul food” for participants and guests to sample.
During the event, individuals important to black history were projected in the background, several of which were also represented on leaflets describing their contributions and accompanied by inspiring quotes. Before his recitation, Leo Dow professed some of the history of Black History Month; Sadie Powell, chair of the Black History Appreciation Committee, shared the origins of ‘stepping’ prior to introducing the Westside Elementary School Step Team.
Black History Month officially began in 1976. It was expanded from Negro History Week, founded by historian and educator Carter G. Woodson in 1926. February was chosen because it is the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom fought for the abolition of slavery in America.
“Nothing is going to be handed to you. You have to make things happen.” –Florence Griffith Joyner (1959-1998), Olympic Champion
Each year, the campus makes time to emphasize Black History Month. It provides the opportunity to learn about and reflect on the history of blacks in America and to create awareness not only for black culture and identity but also for the idea that the American people are diverse, coming from many proud backgrounds and cultures.
The Westside Elementary School Step Team is pictured performing one of several stepping routines.