By Wendy Brown
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office
Wiesbaden Middle School student Akeena Pearson’s introduction to the school’s Black History Month 2013 celebration made note of several historic milestones that make this year’s festivities exceptional.
“In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln’s deeply controversial Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, freeing all the slaves in the United States,” Pearson said during a school-wide assembly Feb. 20.
“A full century later, 1963, marked the tipping point in the civil rights movement, the March on Washington, an event that remains a living memory for many older Americans today,” she said.
Also, 2013 marks the opening of President Barack Obama’s second term as president of the United States, Pearson said, and the movie “Lincoln” has opened a discussion in popular culture about Lincoln’s presidency.
“All in all, 2013 offers a chance to savor the rich and broad menu of possibilities for study of the memories and celebration of these extraordinary events,” Pearson said.
In addition to Pearson’s well-written introduction, the school showcased student talent with poems, songs, a piano performance and much more.
The celebration also included Sgt. 1st Class Kevin White delivering King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, historic videos provided by Michael Coleman and a fashion show.
The historic videos included black-and-white news coverage of the March on Washington that made note of the peaceful nature of the 200,000 people who took part in the march.
“They come by train. They come by bus and by air. They come from the north and the south, the east and west,” the broadcaster says in the video. “They come united in one cause, to urge Congress to pass a civil rights bill to end the burden of racial inequity.”
Another video showed President John F. Kennedy signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and giving one of the pens to King.
The act outlawed major forms of discrimination, including voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and in public accommodations.
Hannah Cornish sang the national anthem. Alisha Abdon sang “America the Beautiful,” and Krishten Jenkins sang “Tell Him.” LaTayah Williams read a poem called, “Do you know who I am?” and Tiaunte Diggs recited a poem she wrote called, “Good and Bad.”
“If there was no hate, could we understand love? And if there was no devil, would we appreciate the man above? Without war, could we understand peace, and if we never lost, would we pride our defeats?” Diggs said while reciting the poem.
“We would never be happy if we didn’t feel sad, and we wouldn’t know the good if we never felt bad,” Diggs said. “There’s always a better outcome than what you put in, so sit back and wait, because this is just the beginning.”