ECMS students celebrate Black History Month

Mariah Leslie, dressed as Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks, recounts the events that triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Behind her is the school choir with director Conrad Weber.

Escambia County Middle School students danced, recited poetry and sang several standards of the Civil Rights Movement during a February 27 assembly, “Rooted in the Past; Looking Toward the Future,” in celebration of Black History Month.

More than 100 guests — including Escambia County Board of Education Chairman Willie Grissett Jr., Assistant Superintendent of Education Beth Drew, Secondary Curriculum Supervisor Amy Cabaniss and Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Sandra Reid — filed into the ECMS gym for the program.

Preliminaries included Christopher Kellum’s welcome and Ariyana Young’s recitation of the school’s mission statement; then Zykel Jones and Ziyonah Moye led the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag.

Two students enhanced the program and its message with their portrayal of Civil Rights icons: Mariah Leslie, who dressed as Rosa Parks and recounted the events that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, and Malachi Imani, who dressed as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recited part of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

A group of students from grades 5-8 shared several inspirational thoughts with the crowd, and the school’s fourth-graders gathered in front of the stage and performed several songs.

Other highlights included poetry recitations by Auriana Knight (Countee Cullen’s “Hey, Black Child) and Claudaya Crenshaw (Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”), the singing by the school’s grade 6-8 choir of “I Am Blessed,” and a praise dance performed by members of I Am Kingdom Praise Dancers.

Dr. Carl Cunningham, Director of Student Support Services at Coastal Alabama Community College, delivered the keynote address, after which the ECMS choir presented a history of dance.

Sandra Gray, president of Concerned Citizens of Atmore, announced the winners of the group’s Black History Essay Contest, and selected choir members closed the program with a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Students and guests were dismissed by Aniya Stots, who delivered brief closing remarks.