March 8, 2017 –
February is Black History Month and several teachers incorporated
black history into their lesson plans.
Sophie Levenberg’s music students
at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School learned about influential music,
such as the blues, swing and scatting. They wrote and sang their own
blues song, “The Teddy Bear Blues,” and tried scatting using puppets.
They also danced to Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”
At the C. J. Hooker Middle School,
Pam Murphy’s general music students learned about different African
drums, as well as a local celebrity who persevered in music and theater
despite a difficult upbringing. Samuel E. Wright, who lives in Walden,
voiced Sebastian the crab on Disney’s The Little Mermaid, where he won
an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Under the Sea.” He also
played the part of Mufasa in the Original case of The Lion King on
Broadway where he was nominated for a Tony Award.
Samuel was born in South Carolina
during segregation when blacks were forced to use separate water
fountains, schools and bathrooms. He left South Carolina for New York
City, determined to make it on Broadway, and was homeless until he got
his big break during an open call for Jesus Christ Superstar.
Social Studies students in Gina
Angelo’s classes learned about the African American experience during
the roaring 20s. They learned about the First Great Migration, when more
than one million African Americans left the south for northern cities in
1910-1930; The Race Riot of 1919 in Omaha, where rioting by whites
resulted in the murder of African American Will Brown; the Harlem
Renaissance, the vibrant African American cultural movement of writers,
musicians and poets who reacted against racial bias; and the Universal
Negro Improvement Association, an organization founded by Marcus Garvey
to promote black pride and unity.