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Home Is Where the Heart Is – Celebrating Black History at EarlystART

A Recap of African American Cultural Heritage Night

Everyone has heard the saying “home is where the heart is.” With so many of EarlystART’s little learners, families, and employees describing the organization as a home away from home, you can only begin to imagine how much heart is here. It’s hard to explain exactly what the saying means, but when you feel it, you know it. It’s something everyone at St. Mark Center felt as African American Cultural Heritage Night came to a close – drums were beating, kids were laughing, bellies were full, and there was an overwhelming sense of belonging that made it feel like home. 


African American Cultural Heritage Night was a beautiful celebration of Black History Month hosted by EarlystART on February 29, 2024. The event began with a truly delicious soul food spread prepared by La La’s Mobile Bites and decadent desserts provided by Blue Sky BakeryIs your mouth watering yet?


With their spirits high and their bellies full, families made their way to the classrooms where they could find four local Black children’s book authors performing live readings of their books: 


Merrill Hunt, EarlystART’s Director of Training & Curriculum, took part in the readings and shared “It was really beautiful to see everyone get so excited listening to the books!


It was inspiring to see the enthusiastic engagement of both the students and families as they enjoyed the readings and meeting with the authors.


Following the live readings, guests made their way back to the auditorium to visit the puppet making station and prepare for a very special performance by The Traditional Music Society. The Traditional Music Society is “an arts-in-education organization devoted to the development of community cohesiveness through the study of music and dance from many world cultures”.

They wrapped up the event with a performance of “West African Drumming by Bird Fleming, Xavier Fleming, and DJ Malabre. Not only was the performance captivating for both children and adults, it was incredibly interactive! The group encouraged the audience to sing, chant, and dance along to the various Welcoming Rhythms of West Africa played throughout the performance, and our little learners did not disappoint. By the end of the experience, students of all ages were huddled around the performers, mimicking their movements and copying their cadence. They ended the event by dancing the night away with their families and friends.

As the echoes of laughter and the rhythm of drums filled the air, it became increasingly clear: African American Cultural Heritage Night was not just a showcase of Black history, culture, and art. It was a testament to the vibrant and supportive community that EarlystART promotes – a community EarlystART acknowledges as the very heart of the organization. Each beat of the drum, each shared smile, and every dance step reaffirmed the notion that home is where the heart is, and EarlystART stands proud as a cherished home for all who belong to this remarkable community.