Historical re-enactments: Coney Island students conclude Black History Month with spirited performances

Speak up: Youngsters at PS 188 showcased the various current causes they promised to fight for at Councilman Mark Treyger’s Black History Month community showcase.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

It was a celebration of color!

Young Coney Island scholars marked the end of Black History Month with a series of performances that honored black artists, authors, and leaders of the past, according to the local councilman, who said the students’ showcase underscored the importance of preserving and celebrating the country’s diverse cultures.

“The performances, the passion, and the strong sense of unity were inspiring, moving, and reflect why it is so critical that we continue emphasizing inclusive, multicultural education for the next generation and beyond,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island).

The Feb. 28 event, which took place at PS 188 on Neptune Avenue at W. 33rd Street, featured kids from that and other local learning houses displaying their vocal, dance, and literary talents. Pupils from PS 188 performed Diana Ross’s 1970 tune “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” while youngsters from nearby PS 90, on W. 12th Street between Neptune and Surf avenues, sang civil-rights anthem “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” Bob Dylan’s 1962 hit, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and Pete Seeger’s 1949 progressive number, “If I Had a Hammer.” The PS 90 entertainers culminated their part of the show with a dance performance to poet Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

Thespians from PS 288, on W. 25th Street between Mermaid and Surf avenues, followed their peers’ performances with a skit they dubbed “The Conversation,” in which four young performers acted out a discussion between former President Barack Obama, and late civil-rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey. Other PS 288 students belted out Stevie Wonder’s 1987 song, “You Will Know,” as part of the festivities.

But the spotlight wasn’t just on the children — their mentors, along with community leaders, also joined in on the tribute. Treyger and his staff presented citations to a slew of so-called black-history honorees, including PS 90 principal Greta Hawkins; PS 288 cheer coach and teacher Monica Ramsey; her fellow cheer coach, Taiji Rivera, who is also a paraprofessional; PS 288’s music teacher Katina Jones; and PS 188 community school director Altovise Green.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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