A Celebration of Unity and Progress in Black History

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In collaboration with S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth and the Empire State After School Program, Bellport Middle School presented “Progress Through Unity,” the program for this year’s annual Black History Month celebration, held in the school auditorium on Feb. 11.  

After student mistresses of ceremonies Marcine Allen-Boutwell and Madison Roberts welcomed participants, student Autumn Simon led the Pledge of Allegiance and Bishop Charles Bullock of Old South Haven Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven gave the invocation. 

Principal Dr. Jamal Colson set the theme of unity and progress by saying it can be achieved by working together and seeing ourselves as greater. Dr. Colson explained that the middle school is focused on what is possible, or the “Mission Possible,” where attendance, attitude and achievement are three goals incorporated into the curriculum and the futuristic thoughts of students. 

“We share a common bond,” Dr. Colson said. “Not only are we looking at progress through unity. We are looking at continuing the work of those before us who worked so hard.” 

Guest speaker Sarah Kinard (Class of 2013) took the stage and said, “We need to dig in our heels and use all opportunities to propel ourselves forward.” In her recollection of her time as a student in South Country, Ms. Kinard also remarked that she was taught that every action has a reaction and consequence and to take responsibility for one’s actions. “It’s about coming together to accomplish the goal of having students succeed,” she added.

Stony Brook University Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Dr. Zebulon Miletzsky asked the question “How Well Do You Know Black History?” He engaged the audience in a true or false activity in which participants decided if “facts” adequately represented Black history. “It’s not all in the history books,” Dr. Miletzsky said. “It’s never too late to learn.”

The program commenced with performances by Stony Brook University’s Cadence Step Team and a poetry reading of “Us Behind the Mask,” written and read by student Zenaiya Shah. The Bellport Middle School Chorus, under the direction of Kyle Sherlock, also impressed the audience with their performance of “Climbin’ Up the Mountain,” a spiritual adapted and arranged by Patsy Ford Simms. 

After the ceremony in the auditorium, participants were invited to continue the evening’s celebration of black history with dancing and dinner provided by Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar, Atlantic Seafood, Café Castello Restaurant & Pizzeria, Café Gia, Del Fuego, Empire State After School Program, Gabby’s Deli & Grocery, La Confianza Deli & Restaurant, Sicilia D’Oro, Stop & Shop, The Journey and Zona Out-East Diner.