MANATEE-- Jessie P Miller Elementary school saw quite the collection of figures from past and present take the stage Friday morning, from Harriet Tubman to Ray Charles to Serena Williams, and even Kanye West.
The entire student body at Miller Elementary crammed into the cafeteria to watch the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders portray famous, influential African Americans for the school's annual Black History Month performance.
The program including lip syncing, dancing and speeches featuring quotes from athletes, musicians, inventors and those who helped spark the social movement for civil rights. The program contained serious moments of remembering the race struggles of America's past, peppered with lightheartedness that
caused the room to roar with laughter.
In preparation for the performance, the students spent two weeks learning about Black History Month and the importance of the Civil Rights Movement.
The show Friday followed an interactive "wax museum" program put on by Miller Elementary first-graders Thursday. Students dressed in costume and gave information on the background of the people they depicted.
"They read their lines so well for the wax museum," education assistant Daisy Garcia said Friday as she helped students line up by the stage. "It is educational in many ways when students learn about and celebrate Black History Month. It teaches them to embrace our multicultural world."
Garcia said the program was back for its second consecutive year by popular student demand.
Fifth-grader Chase Callahan, who played Ray Charles, said his favorite part of preparing for the show was learning about George Washington Carver.
"He was a scientist, and I think he's interesting because I'm a big fan of science," Chase said.
Fifth-grade student Keivon Johnson said he favors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Martin Luther King broke down the walls to freedom and let freedom ring," Johnson said.
The students said they hope to bring the show back again next February.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.