Elementary pupils curious about Black history, culture
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2007

Ofelia Madrid

In the library at Scottsdale's Yavapai Elementary School, there's a display about Black heritage, including books and posters.

Every year, it creates a buzz among students, says librarian Kimberly Landwehr.

"What happens is kids will ask, 'Is it OK to take a book off the display?' "
Landwehr says. "Of course, that's what they're there for." February is Black History Month. In addition to the lessons the Yavapai students get from their homeroom teachers, students who visit her library think about the impact African-Americans have had on the United States.

"The biggest thing is that the display gets the conversation started,"
Landwehr says. "They might go home and share what they learned with their family. The lessons expose them to something they might not be familiar with and gets them questioning and thinking."

At Edison Elementary School in Phoenix, students are creating posters based on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and they will be displayed in the cafeteria.

At Aztec Elementary School, Scottsdale fitness teacher Angela Gilliam gets her students moving and thinking in February by decorating the room with maps of Africa, listening to African music and doing African dance.

"I talk to them about the three famous music styles: jazz, reggae and calypso," says Gilliam, who studied with Chuck Davis, a renowned pioneer of African-American dance. "Then I tell them 'Now we're going to do some African dancing as a celebration of something wonderful.' "

Black History Month
Here are some Black History Month activities:

ASU Tempe
Tuesday: "Black History: The Missing Pages of World History," a forum from
3-5 p.m., Memorial Union Fiesta Room, facilitated by history Professor Matthew Whitaker.

Through Feb. 28: "Dynamic Journey: Transformations of Slavery-era Spaces, Routes and Sounds," a multimedia exhibition provides new information about how enslaved African Americans empowered themselves during the 19th century in the United States. Exhibited in Wilson Hall.

ASU Polytechnic
Monday: 7 p.m. Suzanne Mayo, keynote speaker. Student Union Cooley Ballroom.

ASU West
Feb. 28: Initiative and Motivation Summit, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., with presentations and activities for African-American high school students from Arizona, to expose them to campus life. For invitations, call Theresa Heard, (602) 543-6642.

March 1: "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration," a reinterpretation of the classical work using African-American musical idioms including gospel, jazz, reggae and hip-hop, featuring over 500 performers, 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix. Co-sponsored by ASU Interdisciplinary Arts & Performance, supported by grants from Arizona Commission on the Arts and Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission. Tickets:
(602) 262-7272

Glendale Community College
Feb. 20: 10 a.m. Student Union, 6000 W. Olive Ave. Guest speaker on African culture from the Yoruba Cultural Center.

Feb. 20: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Student Union. Glendale Bead Museum will display African art and host a bracelet-making workshop with beads of African design.

Feb. 21: 11 a.m. Student Union 100. "Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul," presented by Bari Ellen Ross, an editor and contributor to the popular book Chicken Soup for the African American Soul.

Phoenix College
Today: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sophomore Square. Black History Month Kick-off Festival.

Feb. 23: 7 to 10 p.m.: Hannelly Cafeteria. African/African-American Reunion, "Strengthening the Link."