SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Five friends from Washington High have been working hard to create activities to inspire and inform friends and students of all ethnicities of the importance on African American history.
“I feel like, in history, the only thing we’re known for is slavery, and we barely get to know what greatness our people did,” Sophomore and Member of Empowerment Agnes Kabwali said.
After witnessing students perform a traditional African American dance style called “step” at SDSU, Washington High Sophomores, Mariam James, Mawazo Mamboeleo, Agnes Kabwali, Antoinette Bita, and Hala Abdala decided they wanted to empower their school over black history month.
“To me, Black History Month is a chance to celebrate the people who came before us who struggled to, kind of, have us be here and the life that we have. Although, bad things still happen, it’s easier for us than our ancestors,” Antoinette Bita said
Last week, they hung flags representing different countries in Africa around the school.
“It’s just a way to make everyone feel comfortable and be like, ‘Oh that’s my flag up there,’ and I feel proud of that,” Hala Abdala said.
“They just had that sense of, ‘we belong here,'” Bita said.
They have also created a wall of famous African American icons both past and present. Each contains a brief description of their impact and their most memorable quote.
“Seeing that, people can look at it and think, ‘Oh, if they were able to do that throughout their struggles, then we can do something too,'” Bita said
Monday, they’ll celebrate ‘I have a dream day’ where students and staff are encouraged to write their dreams on sticky notes a placing them on the wall.
“It’s showing that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and so it’s basically asking people, ‘What’s your dream?’ and putting it up on the wall,” Bita said.
And their dream is hoping that everyone can walk away feeling more united.
“Black history is American history, like, you can’t tell the story of America and not include black people at some point,” Bita said.
“Knowing how far black people have come, whether you’re black or not, is kind of inspiration for anybody,” Bita said.
This Friday they’re hosting a relationship building and food sharing event, where they will be bringing authentic made dishes from their home countries.
For more Black History Month stories, you can check out KELOLAND’s Hidden History page.