February is Black History Month, the tradition of which goes back to 1926, when Carter G. Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” according to the NAACP’s website, during a time when most history books omitted African-American history and the significant role African-Americans played in building the United States as it’s known today.
Woodson reportedly selected February to celebrate black history because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two men who fought to free American slaves, were born in February.
In 1976, “Negro History Week” was expanded and renamed Black History Month, and since then, people around the country take time each February to learn about and reflect on the ongoing legacy African-Americans hold in American history.
Florissant residents have many options available to them to celebrate Black History during the month of February, including events hosted by St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley (SLCC), the Ferguson-Florissant School District and the Hazelwood School District.
St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley
SLCC Florissant Valley is hosting Black History Month events and celebrations all month, after launching with an African American Heritage Kick-Off Celebration on Feb. 1. Remaining Black History Month events this month at SLCC include the following. All of the SLCC events are free and open to the public. Classes are also welcome to attend, according to a press release from SLCC.
- Feb. 16, 11 – 11:45 a.m.—Bobby Norfolk is back with “Drums and Music of Africa,” during which the Emmy award-winning storyteller takes the audience on a journey to Africa through folktales and music. For more information, contact Darlene Neil at 314-513-4891.
- Feb. 22, 1 – 3:30 p.m.—The Poetry Club is hosting its annual Winter Open Mic event, which offers students, staff and the community the opportunity to share original poetry, spoken word or more traditional. Participants may also choose to share a brief political or social issue speech in honor of Black History Month, as well as brief original songs and music. For more information, contact Regina Popper at 314-513-4763.
- Feb. 28, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.—Take “An Interdisciplinary Journey” through slavery in America. Students can receive information about specific aspects of “The Peculiar Institution” at various stations at this event. Some of the information will include the economics of slavery, facts and key players, literature, key legislature, library services and the importance of literacy. For more information, contact Lonetta Oliver at 314-513-4132.
- Feb. 29, noon – 2 p.m.—Static Noise presents a step show, during which members perform creative, synchronized steps. For more information, contact Dobbie Herrion at 314-513-4639.
Ferguson-Florissant School District
The Ferguson-Florissant district has chosen “Vote for Black History” as its theme for Black History Month.
“We plan to celebrate the countless contributions made by African-Americans over time, and because it is an election year, focus on African-Americans who have made a difference in the political arena,” said social studies and world language coordinator Mark Forbes in a press release, adding that the district’s goal is to help students better understand that historically, African-Americans fought for their rights and won them by becoming engaged in government.
Each day this month, some Ferguson-Florissant students will read announcements that pay tribute to historic African-American political figures, while the rest will share Black History announcements of their choosing, the release said.
In addition to the daily announcements, a number of other Black History Month events will happen throughout the district. While most events are for students only, two district schools in Florissant have events that are open to the public.
- Feb. 29, 7 p.m.—Cross Keys Middle School students will perform the musical “A Midnight Cry: The Underground Railroad to Freedom,” in the school cafeteria. The public is welcome to attend.
- Ongoing—Cross Keys students are also raising funds in their fifth-annual effort to benefit Blood: Water Mission, a non-profit organization that works to help remedy the HIV, AIDS and water crises in sub-Saharan Africa. Students hope to raise $3,000, enough to build one well.
Hazelwood School District
Like the Ferguson-Florissant district, the Hazelwood district has events happening throughout the month at its many schools. Several district schools in Florissant are holding evening events for students and their loved ones. For more information about these events, contact the individual schools. Click the link in each listing for contact information.
- Feb. 16, 5 – 7 p.m.—Cold Water Elementary School presents “Black History Celebration and Peace Museum.” Students and families are invited to experience storytelling, a living African-American museum, cultural activities and the Peace Museum.
- Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m.—Jana Elementary School presents “Dream Your Dream,” during which third through fifth grade students will perform poetry, skits and music. The school’s band and choir will perform and student artwork will be on display.
- Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m.—Jury Elementary School presents “How Sweet the Sound.” Kindergartners through second graders will participate in a living history museum depicting scenes relating to music, athletes and the military.
- Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. — Jury Elementary School presents “How Sweet the Sound.” In this edition, third through fifth grade students will participate in a living history museum depicting scenes relating to music, athletes and the military.
- Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m.—Brown Elementary School presents “A Letter to My Daughters; of Thee I Sing.”
- Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m.—Jamestown Elementary School presents “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future,” during which grade level presentation will focus on government, sports, authors, science, entertainment and education. Staff will perform a black history rap.
- Feb. 28, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.—Barrington Elementary School’s Black History Celebration.
- Feb. 28, 6:30 – 8 p.m.—Townsend Elementary School presents “Black History Alive Living Museum.”
- Feb. 29, 7 – 8 p.m. — Hazelwood Central High School presents “Black History, Diversity Program.”
- Mar. 1, 6:30 p.m.—Hazelwood Central Middle School presents its Black History program.
Did we miss a Black History Month celebration or event in Florissant? Please share it with the community in the comments section, below!