During the month of February, the students of Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts worked hard, weeks on end, practicing for this year’s Black History Month program that was accessible to the students, staff and parents of selected students. Several students from each grade level were featured throughout the program and were able to show off their many talents. They worked very closely with the school’s art director, Mr. Jay, who did an amazing job with putting the entire project together for everyone to enjoy.

On the night of the performance, the Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts auditorium was filled with friends, family, staff, and City Year AmeriCorps members for a Black History Month program, Black eSTEAM. The purpose behind this year’s program was to highlight the accomplishments of African American inventors, artists, scientists and activists who changed the world through science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Families rated the performances of the students as phenomenal and two thumbs up. The program’s performances included ten different acts of singing, dancing, poetry, and various tributes to late greats within the music industry, including tributes to Aretha Franklin, Aaliyah Dana Haughton, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and Usher. During the show’s dress rehearsal, performed in front of City Year staff and corps members, and students from a local elementary school, Art Director, Mr. Jay, shared how it’s important to celebrate black history all year long, not just during the short month of February. 

During the performance I was able to speak with a parent of one of the performers who was giving a tribute to the late and great Michael Jackson. She disclosed that her son, who will be graduating from Roosevelt this year, has a passion for dancing and a love for music. She also believes that her son will have a very successful career with dancing in the future. I also wanted to hear from some students and gain some feedback from them about their performances and the importance of celebrating Black History Month.

Some questions that I solicited were, “Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?” and “Who inspires you and why?” One student answered, “As young black men and women, I feel like we need to know our history. It’s important that we learn about the people who has come before us and made a difference; a change in our communities and the world. We must follow in their footsteps and continue to make a difference in the world as young people.”

This event was a great way to celebrate Black History Month and it was also a great way for the students of Roosevelt to show off the skills that they have learned, and showcase their incredible talents.

Article written by City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps members, LaDaja Miller and Laquisha Mcneil

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