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Lee Central Middle School Students use art to learn about Black History Month

Lee Central Middle School Students use Art to Learn about Black History Month

Students at Lee Central Middle School decorated hallways with art celebrating and teaching about Black History Month.

BISHOPVILLE – Lee Central Middle School is abuzz with excitement as Black History Month gets underway.

Teachers, students and even the administrators are all taking part in an integrated curriculum that involves the arts, engineering concepts (math) and history. Art in grades 6-8 this month involves paying homage to the memory of those who fought for civil rights and reverences those who are still championing the cause, within the “Migration” theme provided by Principal Patrice Holmes.

Art teacher Sheneka Jackson-Kinsey said it has been exciting seeing everyone join together in celebration.

“She (Principal Holmes) told us she wanted us to come up with door designs for African-American history,”

Jackson-Kinsey said. “I wanted the students to create something that is (uniquely) them, so we came up with the posters as a start.”

Jackson-Kinsey crafted silhouettes of protesters with outstretched hands and affixed the students’ artwork to the figures. They now hang on the windows and doors of her classroom. As for the other doors throughout the school, they, too, have images that reflect the past. It’s about awareness, Holmes said.

“We wanted all the kids to be involved and engaged,” Holmes said. “We felt that creating (concepts) around a certain theme would enhance the learning. We wanted an atmosphere of appreciation for the history of (black) people in the school.”

For Holmes, that migration was the relocation of more than 6 million blacks from the South to the North. An unsatisfactory economic climate and egregious segregationist laws precipitated the flight to the North, where blacks took advantage of the need for manufacturing workers. For others, it looked more like the 1963 March on Washington or Chicago Freedom Movement, which is echoed in their artwork. Whatever the move or movement, there was some sort of migration that took place, and the students wasted no time identifying those that resonated with them most.

As part of their assignment, they were also asked to choose a black artist to research.

Among the list of names the students had to choose from were Barkley Hendricks, contemporary painter who made revolutionary contributions to black portraiture and conceptualism with life-sized oil paintings of blacks; Alvin D. Loving, an expressionist painter known for his extreme abstraction where he created fabric constructions and large paper collages; and Bob Thompson, a figurative painter known for his bold and colorful canvases.

Most of the artists aren’t considered household names but were cited as having a significant impact on the Civil Rights Movement. There were questions hurled throughout the room in the inquisition.

“What did he do that was so special?” “What medium did he use?”

These are all a part of what they should be doing at this point, Jackson-Kinsey said, who hesitantly quieted the class because of their eagerness to learn. The culmination of the lesson this week is artwork by the student that resembles that of their chosen artist.

This gives them practice with medium and technique, Jackson-Kinsey said.

“This shows how the work of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement has made its way to us,” Holmes said. “We are benefiting from their work.”