While Black History Month takes place in the month of February, we know our little learners, families, and communities deserve to celebrate the rich history, contributions, achievements, and influence of the Black community far beyond those four short weeks.
Celebrating Black History always has been, and always will be, an integral part of EarlystART’s mission. Without the countless contributions from the Black community in Kansas City, EarlystART would not exist. EarlystART history is Black history, and it’s imperative that we lift up and honor the legacies that got us to where we are today. Here, we use great intentionality to educate our little learners, uplift Black creators, and advocate for change as part of our daily practice.
Teaching children about Black history is crucial; it opens doors for conversations about race, equity, and diversity that we need to be having. With this support, children, even our littlest learners, create foundations that will inform how they will confront discrimination and inequities in the future. We know the early years in a child’s life are the most formative, and we have the opportunity to develop kind, compassionate, and well-informed citizens and leaders.
Here’s what we believe: we must join together, as a community, to create the change we want to see. In order to triumph against systemic and generational racism, it is up to us to ensure that the next generation learns how integral Black History is to American History. If we aren’t familiar with the past, it becomes far too easy to repeat it.
Finding fun and creative ways to incorporate Black history into lessons to engage students is an inclusive opportunity EarlystART is proud to offer.
In A-Keyla Walker’s (Ms. Walker) “Designers” classroom at EarlystART-Metro Center, students spent the month of February exploring concepts on courage, equity, respect, and identity. The little learners in Ms. Walker’s classroom examined figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and more through innovative and stimulating curriculum including:
- dramatic play highlighting the contributions made by African Americans in the medical field;
- building sculptures of themselves and exploring their unique identities;
- and creating “Dr. King’s Dream: A Preschool Perspective,” a book explaining what Dr. King’s dream means through the eyes of a preschooler.
We are grateful for our teachers at EarlystART, like Ms. Walker, who amplify Black voices and contributions in the classroom.
What’s even better – honoring Black History at EarlystART doesn’t just happen in the classroom! On February 21, EarlystART-St. Mark Center hosted a performance by The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, “Setting the Stage”.
The beautiful performance focused on teaching Black History through a unique lens – and through movement!. Each dance number was accompanied by a short educational video about a historical movement in the dance world and how it relates to Black History. Integrated seamlessly with the performance, the audience received insights regarding the legacies of Black pioneers in minstrel, jazz dance, ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and modern dance. Oh, and students and families got to move and groove!
Students and families were invited on stage to show off their moves with KCFAA’s Chief Artistic Officer, Tyrone Aiken! In addition to learning new choreography, love for dance was inspired for EarlystART’s little learners. Watch out, Alvin Ailey – we’ve got some future artists dancing your way!
EarlystART has long been rooted in the belief that every child has the ability to succeed in school and in life. Ending injustice, racism, and bias is fundamental to delivering on this promise. We’re passionate about doing our part to create and nurture a culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates our diverse voices and lived experiences. By uplifting Black voices, sharing Black stories, and celebrating Black history, we can help to shape the world as we dream it to be: diverse, equitable, and inclusive.