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Celebrating Black History

Escambia County Middle holds celebration on Tuesday

As the I Am Kingdom praise dancers moved to the rhythm of the music, the crowd sat and watched with rapt attention.

The praise dancers were a small part of a large program that celebrated Black History Month at Escambia County Middle School on Feb. 27.

All month long, celebrations have commenced throughout the Atmore area. The program at ECMS was themed around celebrating the past, but keeping an eye toward the future.

Fifth through eighth grade students provided inspirational thoughts, the fourth grade performed a skit and songs with appearances by Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the popular poem “Hey, Black Child” was read, the sixth through eighth grade choir sang “I Am Bless,” the poem “Still I Rise,” the history of dance by the choir and the Black History essay winners, sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Atmore, were announced.

Additionally, Dr. Carl Cunningham Jr., the director of student support services at Coastal Alabama Community College, was the guest speaker.

Cunningham spoke about having an appreciation of your past, and using that appreciation to have pride of your roots.

“I’ve had the opportunity to sit here and watch the future perform,” he said of the program. “I relate to the students. I was you.”

Cunningham recalled his time as a student when his grandfather would pick him up from school.

He said every day, his grandfather would ask him the names of his parents, grandparents and other relatives, to help him remember his origins.

Cunningham is a Mobile native, and received his bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University in urban studies. He obtained his master’s degree in geography and his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.

To close the program, the ECMS choir sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”