Black History Assembly celebrates diversity

Adrian Maddox, Reporter

February is commonly known for its celebration of Black History Month, a month-long observance of achievements from African Americans throughout history. Annually, Battle hosts an assembly in the performing arts center where the choir, jazz band, and theater classes perform. This year there were two 30-minute assemblies during fourth block, splitting up teachers to fit all students into the celebration.

Previously, the assembly held performances from the choirs, the jazz band, the dance team, and even community members. This year’s performance was shorter than the previous yearsa��, as the assemblies line up was shorter than last year. The assembly didn’t include any performances from community members as well as Battle’s dance team.

Though the assembly was shorter than expected, the assembly held up expectations from past performances. There were 70 minutes carved out of the day for each of the performance, though the assembly’s duration was somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes. The assembly began with some swinging jazz from the jazz band. The band played pieces by Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles. Each transition to the next performance was aided with short films about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The choir showed off a familiar format with their music as last year, with members of the choir sitting throughout the performing arts center to then come together in chorus in song. Advanced Acting also appeared with some performances of speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ian Graves, junior choir member, explains what he believes could have made the assembly longer so it filled the entire 70-minute plot. Graves said, “It would have been nice to have a guest speaker from the community.”

The assembly this year focused mainly on the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and included videos of his influence on the African American communities and his life. The choirs and theater class had performances based on speeches and songs dedicated to King. Jazzmond Rucker, choir director, conducted the choir through two songs, one being Freedom Train by Rollo Dilworth. Rucker describes how his goal for the assembly correlated with his chosen songs for performance. Rucker said, “My goals for the program are to always strive to bring to life a portion of history through performance and to encourage meaningful though. I hope we did that this year in our honoring of Dr. King’s life.”

Black History Month originated after the abolishment of slavery in the United States Constitution. Carter G. Woodson, researcher and founder of the Association for the African American Life and History, is one of the first named men to start the movement. The celebration began as a weeklong observance, but eventually grew to become a month-long observation. Though the movement had a rocky start, as it wasn’t accepted as an official holiday until 1976, it then became annually celebrated after president Gerald Ford made the executive decision to make February the designated month of celebrate and commemorate black history in America.

Graves describes why celebrating the differences of cultures is important for our school’s acceptance. Graves said, “I think it’s good thing to have for the students because sadly sometimes things like Black History Month do get overshadowed and it’s a good way for fine art students to learn more and be more involved in Black History Month.”

Even though the performance flowed flawlessly throughout the entire afternoon, there will always be pieces performers or conductors wish to change some piece of their performance. Though this is usually the case, Marc Lewis, band conductor, was quite pleased with his performance. The jazz band performed I’m Beginning to See the Light by Ella Fitzgerald, Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway, and What’d I Say by Ray Charles. Lewis believed the jazz band performed very well for being the opening act for the assembly, as well as being able to attend and view the assembly after their pieces. Lewis exclaimed, “From our point of view with the jazz band, I don’t think we would change anything besides saving seats for my students.”

Black History month is an annual celebration, celebrated at Battle. The school is expected to continue the celebration with the visual arts classes. This year focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the following years will be expected to be based on a new theme and new idea of African American history.