February is the month to commemorate the inspirational and influential faces of black history.
Maryland fosters great African American Heritage, priding itself on its deep connection to some of the first African Americans who helped influence the Civil Rights movement. Harriet Tubman, for example, a leading figure in the Underground Railroad movement, was a Maryland native. Frederick Douglass, a respected leader of the abolitionist movement and the first African American citizen to hold a high rank in the U.S. government, was also born in Maryland.
The Montgomery County Employees Black History Month Program committee kicked off the month by hosting a special ceremony at the Universities at Shady Grove. According to Aline Barros from Montgomery Community Media, the event was a celebration of education and diversity in honoring ordinary people doing extraordinary things. “We are who we are today because of our ancestors and because of the people currently living today. I think it’s important for us not to forget the best and the struggles that we have been through,” explained Parker Hamilton, director of the Montgomery County Public Libraries. Other attendees included Montgomery County Executive, Isiah Leggett, and Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice.
Josiah Henson Park in Rockville hosted free guided tours starting February 7th and taking place every Saturday after from 12:00pm-4:00pm. The tours retraced the footsteps of Reverend Josiah Henson, from his enslavement through his escape on the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada. There were also weekly showings of PBS’ “The search for Josiah Henson,” and the last day of February featured a spoken word poetry event: Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom where participants of all ages and races presented their poems.
Montgomery County schools have also participated in the celebration of Black History Month. Benjamin Banneker Middle School Students were given a free screening of the movie Selma, which highlights the marches of Dr. Martin Luther King from the towns of Selma to Montgomery. Galway Elementary School viewed Legends That Paved the Way, where they learned about influential African Americans spanning from the past to present time. Galway also incorporated much about Black History into their curriculum throughout the month. Forest Knolls Elementary School hosted an African American Heritage night on Friday, February 20th, which featured an array of poetry readings written about African Americans, their history, and their culture, as well as a performance by Traditional African Sogo Drum and Dance Ensemble.
Social media has also been an outlet of celebration for Montgomery County students. On Twitter, there have been frequent retweets of quotes and pictures relating to Black History. “I want everyone to know the great words that every influential African American has spoken, so I post up a lot of quotes from Dr. King, for example. It really puts everyone hyped about either being black or anyone who enjoys black history,” said Mihret Zemeduken, a senior at Richard Montgomery. Leah McLean, a junior student at Blair High School, also posted a picture of Martin Luther King with the caption, He is what makes me proud to be African American #blackhistorymonth.
To acknowledge the great figures of African American History, Richard Montgomery High School featured short segments on its morning news broadcast, RMBC. “I think it’s important to celebrate this month because our school is so diverse. Due to recent events, I feel as though that students might feel discouraged because of all the injustice that has been happening in our country regarding black people. So, doing these segments can make students feel proud to be who they are, rather than feel like an ignored community,” explained assistant principal Mark Brown.
Celebrating Black History Month is a great way for Montgomery County to recognize the diversity of its student body. By combining education with activism, students can learn more about some of history’s most influential events.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Sara Monterroso of Richard Montgomery High School