PATERSON, NJ - The auditorium at Paterson School 20 came alive with song and dance, stepping and stomping on the final day of February as classes and students took to the stage delivering inspirational performances as part of their “Black Historical Icons” Program.
"In our village we are going to have respect," teacher Ms. Muhammad who also served as the morning's emcee said, as much a lesson in politeness and respect for the past struggles the ancestors of many of those gathered have endured in their continuing fight for equality, as it was a command for silence.
Between the well practiced songs of several classes, from kindergarten through 7th grade, students took to the stage dressed as several of the icons the show was produced to celebrate, including Frederick Douglas, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, and Mae Jemison. In a nod to modern culture Barack and Michelle Obama, Venus and Serena Williams, and Oprah Winfrey were also portrayed.
In one moving performance students from Ms. Olivares' class took to the stage singing Michael's Jackson's Man in the Mirror, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s rousing auditory of "How long? Not long," rang out until the children raised signs saying "Together We Can Make A Change."
Offering an important indication of the impact local community has on the children at School 20 was 8th grade student Skarline Mora's rendition of Angie Stone’s Brotha, as several prominent local black leaders dressed in suits and ties marched to the front of the auditorium.
The song, Mora told TAPinto Paterson, was meant to reflect for her fellow students that too often “black men are not represented like they should be,” and as a community “we are not represented as strong as we should be.” The men in the room, including former Board of Education Commissioner Vincent Arrington, a reminder, he said, “to show the young men of all races that there are strong black men in Paterson, here to be role models, here to be mentors.”
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