Rojas: Kingsway Middle School Brings Understanding With Black History Month Event

By Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed | AC JosepH Media Guest Blogger

The Kingsway Regional Middle School hallways and gym were filled with conversations, laughter, and good vibes emanating from students, teachers, other school staff, and parents during its Eighth Annual Black History Month Celebration entitled, The African American Experience held on Feb. 16.

Upon entering, you saw trifolds with pictures and life accomplishments of the students’ chosen influential Black individuals or organizations, and students smartly dressed in fashionable attire of influential Black people, past and present.

Most of the student presenters and visitors arrived at the school with the same view on race. That day, there were no racial distinctions or a color line; the school’s intended racial unity provided understanding and harmony.   

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According to the school’s website, the student population is 77% Caucasian and 23% students of color. The annual event serves as an instructional module focused on the history, culture, struggles, and contributions of Black people to society. 

The event was both informative and entertaining, as students got into characters of influential Black people from the past and present and recited a narrative on their lives journeys, and accomplishments in diverse careers. 

The students worked with their teachers to select an individual or organization that has impacted and changed the game.

Over the past years, principal Brian Tonelli, teachers, and school personnel have persistently worked in organizing this event, which brings students of all backgrounds together in a spirit of expanding their knowledge of the uniqueness, concerns, and creativity, that contributes to the struggles in their torturous history and resiliency in overcoming adversity simply because of their skin color.

“Without raising racial awareness, students can’t stand up to negative stereotypes, discrimination, and racial hatred,” said a White female student.

I overheard a Black parent tell a student after she finished her presentation, “We should know where our Black ancestors came from, their struggles, and modern day influential Black people need to support those students committed to a just and equal society.”

“We should know where our ancestors came from, what their cultures were, and their traditions, why some remained more visible in certain places more than others, their dances, their customs, songs, where the African influence is undeniable,” he says.

The communities that are serviced by the Kingsway Regional School District welcome the district’s strategies to improve race relations on its campus. 

“We hope that it commits all available resources to build on this annual event, I heard from teachers, students and parents that they will throw their unconditional support to strengthen racial harmony, both at the schools and communities, the cause of harmony and equal justice demands nothing less,” an excited parent said with the teacher beside nodding her head in agreement.

Bio: Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas is an award-winning columnist, veteran civil rights activist and former officer with the Gloucester County NAACP. He is the cofounder and retired director of Philadelphia Prison System’s Office of Community Justice and Outreach.

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