February is Black History Month
By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff
Black History Month will be celebrated at the West Bend High Schools for the first time this year.
About 20 WBHS students will perform Feb. 8 in a Black History Month Celebration in the Silver Lining Arts Center.
At 6 p.m., doors open to the art gallery. Art by both students and the Milwaukee photographer David Nunley will be on display. In addition, refreshments will be available.
At 7 p.m., Dr. Zacharia Nchinda, a University of Milwaukee lecturer and African American history and world history teacher, will open the celebration in the auditorium. Afterwards, the performances, which include readings, poetry, and dancing, will begin.
“These acts are creative in nature and are very entertaining,” said Barseana Simond, the multicultural club advisor and an organizer of the BHM Celebration.
West junior Jhalia Evans is performing in the BHM Celebration.
“I am writing a speech on mass incarceration in America because it’s a huge and important topic that few people know about,” Evans said.
In addition to student performances, special guests include the Ko-Thi Dance Company and Tamarind Tribal Belly Dance.
“Black people have been stripped of our historical roots, our families, our freedoms, our pride,” Simond said. “There has been a lot of verbal, physical and psychological abuse endured by people of color for the sole reason of the shade of their skin. To acknowledge Black History Month is to acknowledge and celebrate the existence, the history and future of people who are people.”
Simond began planning the BHM celebration with Leah Duckert-Kroll, the WBHS band director, at the start of this school year.
Anybody looking to help can hand out programs, usher, do stage management, run spotlights, put up posters in the community or spread the word through social media and word of mouth.
Niyah Wallace, a junior at West, is assisting backstage.
“I choose to help in back because I feel even in the background I’m helping with the celebration of my race,” Wallace said. “Black History Month is needed to show the kids of my skin color that we’re more than statistics and that we have so many talents and gifts and we can be anything.”
“If we don’t take this one month to celebrate and teach others about us we will never get the chance,” Evans said. “We rarely get the chance to learn about anyone that looks like us.”
The celebration is free to attend, but donations are appreciated.
“BHM is needed because we need to, in the words of President Ford, ‘seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,’” Duckert-Kroll said. “I’d just like to remind everyone that this celebration is for everyone–black, white, student, community member… literally anyone. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come and enjoy the evening!”
(Top image: East sophomore Shauna Much created an artwork for the WBHS Black History Month Celebration. Photo by Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff.)