For the eighth grade class at Democracy Prep Charter Middle School, the end of trimester exams was not just a chance to celebrate all of their hard work, it was also an opportunity to bring their history lesson on the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance to life.
“The Harlem Renaissance theme was chosen as a way to celebrate the rich history of our community,” says eighth-grade history teacher, Elizabeth Hatcher.
The scholars, dressed in outfits of feathers, fringe, and fedora hats, drew their style inspiration from many famous African American artists, writers, and visionaries who once called the neighborhood where DPCMS is located, home.
Scholars read poems by famous Harlem Renaissance artists such as Langston Hughes, participated in a fashion show and learned how to do one of the most popular dances of the time period, the Charleston.
The Harlem Renaissance lesson followed closely behind a month-long celebration of African American history and culture in observance of Black History Month in February. Scholars had an opportunity to experience a jazz concert by a troupe of musicians that use music to educate middle school audiences on the importance of the Civil Rights Movement, and a panel of seven professionals of color that discussed a variety of topics including the importance of education in minority communities.
“As a history teacher I try to emphasize that Black history is American history, and not something only to be studied and celebrated in a particular month,” Hatcher says. “Our wonderful 6th-grade history teacher, Rashid Duroseau, coined the term ‘Black History Month 365’ to express the idea that at DPCMS, we celebrate black history all year long.”