Black women were an important part of the Civil Rights Movement, and are important to black history as a whole.
That’s why Rome Middle School teachers Kristen Hall and Hillary Daniel made Rome City Schools’ black history program specifically about “Black HerStory” on Thursday at Rome City Auditorium.
Parents, RCS staff, and board members gathered to watch students perform all sorts of art in honor of Black History Month. From honoring Aretha Franklin, to black sitcoms like “Moesha” and “Girlfriends,” Daniel said she felt it important to honor the past, present, and future.
“A lot of times in school, and even the things that are on during Black History Month, we show the same things a lot of the time,” she said, giving examples like the “I Have a Dream” speech. “But who are we not talking about? Those are things we want to incorporate. They’re just as important.
“Oprah, for (the kids), that is history, which is crazy to me,” Hall added. “Simone Biles, these were in the teens of the 2000s.”
The Rome City Schools step team also performed at the event, which is black history in itself. Modern day stepping began in the early 1900s when organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council started holding “Greek Sings.” These fraternities and sororities, which are also known as the “Divine Nine,” still perform these steps today. Many of them are the original steps created by early members of the organizations.
While many know stepping to be part of black Greek tradition, others cite the African gumboot dance as one of stepping’s biggest influences.
Hall and Daniel also said they felt it was important to emphasize women, so young black girls would know they are more than stereotypes.
“As black women, I think we come to work hoping to inspire others,” Hall said. “Right now, in our society ... we’re focusing on moving away from the concept of ‘angry black woman’ to ‘strong black woman.’”
While they set out to inspire the kids, Hall and Daniel said the kids also managed to inspire them while they worked to put the show together.
“We’ve been put on this pedestal being black educators,” Daniel said. “They are really talented, and really good kids.”