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.