Students, parents and staff of Forest Edge Elementary School celebrated the history and achievements of African Americans on Thursday night. The celebration included a number of performances from the students, as well as a lesson on black history by one of the school's teachers, Robin McDougal.
"African American history is really American history," said McDougal, a black teacher at Forest Edge, as she addressed the crowd that filled the school's cafeteria. McDougal said Thursday's gathering, and nationwide celebrations like it, is a result of people of different backgrounds coming together through milestones in American history. "It is a combined effort of people that came [the slaves] and people who brought them," she said.
McDougal said the crowd gathered to celebrate what is important to the fabric of this country. She also said that although the past was painful, it was important to look to the future. "There are no Africans in Africa named McDougal," she said. "But there is good news. We are looking into the future. I love the fact that I am here to help all children reach their potential," she said.
According to McDougal, learning the divided history is important for a united future. "If we don't remember the past, we're threatened to repeat it," she said.
Student performances, mostly dancing, followed McDougal's speech. Forest Edge student Monica Harris performed a routine with her dance group, while Colston Moder, Davey Elmer, Steve Gad and Zach Walsh performed a comical dance for the audience. Arriana and Gloria Chen entertained the guests by playing the piano during dinner, and the Essence Dance Company from South Lakes High School completed the celebration with their performance.