The University was initially approached by Barbara Tompkins, a representative from Holleman Elementary, requesting assistance in presenting a Black History Month program at her school. When Yolanda Gross, program coordinator II in the office of Special Programs and Cultural Series, was notified of the request she was excited to assist. “At the time, we were unaware that this program would be the first to be held on campus,” said Gross, “We just knew we wanted to help.” Gross called a meeting requesting the presence of student leaders, campus organizations and Tompkins to discuss and get more information.
Each year, a national theme is selected for Black History Month and the University selects a sub-theme. This year’s theme was Crisis in Black Education with a sub theme of Black Lives Matter. “We wanted to do something special for the Holleman Elementary students,” said Gross, “So we came up with a subtitle, Images through history.” Once the subtitle was finalized, they shaped the program around it making it kid friendly, educational and interactive. With the assistance of Tompkins, they were able to create a program that engaged their audience of elementary school kids, teachers and parents.
After the program, Tompkins told Gross the program was great and it held the students’ attention. “She said, ‘You all actually kept them focused and captured their attention’,” said Gross. Participating and producing the Black History Month program is something Gross believes highly impacted the university students because of their dedication to facilitating such a fantastic program. “They realized that no matter the age group you have to put on a good performance and make it memorable,” said Gross, “This was a great opportunity for us to start building that relationship with the community.” So far, they have received information that Holleman is interested in having the Black History Month program next year.
Written by Jourdan B. Scruggs