“Our community needs two things: inspiration and information” – Mr. Hughes, Resource Specialist Teacher at Warren Lane Academy of the Arts, a Turnaround Arts partner elementary school located in Inglewood, California.
Warren Lane’s recent Black History Month Showcase stems from both.
“The most rewarding thing about the showcase is how excited our students get. They’re excited to learn about this history. I call it the ‘missing pages’ of history – the facts and stories that are not widely known, yet have impacted our community.”
During Warren Lane’s recent Black History Month showcase, Black and Forth, TK to 6th graders took to the stage to share their knowledge of Black history.
Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou, Sinte dance of West Africa, and songs of resistance graced the stage.
“We were absolutely packed! There were at least 250 people in our auditorium.”
Warren Lane has put on a Black History Month Showcase every year since 1999. For these 19 years and counting, families – even alumni and parents of children who have graduated – visit year after year to support the students of their community.
This year, students at Warren Lane had a guest arrive just a few days before their showcase: none other than award-winning actress and Turnaround Artist, Kerry Washington.
“The students really felt touched with how personable Kerry was with them. She led them through performance warm-ups and coached them through their stage performances just a few days before the show.”
“Her coaching – giving advice on confidence, discipline, and how to get beyond the normal nerves that everyone encounters – that was remarkable. It gave the students confidence to move forward and to know that they’re going to be okay regardless of what happens on stage.”
After previewing the showcase and viewing their most recent artistic creations, she gifted each student at Warren Lane a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther comic book. “When you watch Blank Panther, remember that it all started from an idea that someone wrote down to share with others,” says Washington. She emphasized how important the students, their ideas, and their ability to read and write were.
The students were over the moon.
“I liked the fact that she tuned into what they need – something that hones in on the importance of their academics as well as the excitement of the Black Panther experience. That, for me, shows how thoughtful and relevant she is: focusing on the students and furthering their education.”
*All quotes are from Mr. Hughes, unless otherwise noted.