By Trevor Eichler
The atmosphere at Marlboro High School on Monday night was lively and upbeat, all thanks to the first ever Black History Month Jamboree. The night was filled with music, dancing, and poetry, all celebrating Black History Month along with Black culture as a whole. This event was planned by the Students Empowering Equality club, led by Supervisor Aneisha Cunningham-Green. Staff and students from all schools in the district gathered in the high school cafeteria to learn, listen, and appreciate. Attendees were treated to refreshments, and African drum music performed by Kofi and Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble.
“This night is so important for our school. The club is only 2 years old, and along with our diversity night back in November, our goal is to spread awareness about Black history and diversity throughout the school community,” said Glavanah Dumas, President of Students Empowering Equality.
The message from Maxwell Kofi Donkor, leader of the drum ensemble, was simple: “Love one another, work hard to break barriers. It’s not about color, it’s about the heart.”
He talked to the crowd about African culture, and how to appreciate nature. The highlight of the night was that he gave students an opportunity to participate and learn the instruments of the ensemble. Everyone who attended was given a lesson about the history of African drum music, the instruments, the wardrobe, and were also shown dances and rhythms associated with African culture. The cafeteria tables were scattered with books and posters of iconic leaders involved with black history.
“Our school needs something like this. We haven’t really had a club that celebrates different cultures and diversity, so we really want to try and make a difference. All are welcome to join,” said Dumas.
Students Empowering Equality, also known as “SEE,” is directed by elementary school teacher Aneisha Cunningham-Green, and led by five high school students: President Glavanah Dumas, Vice President Amya White, Public Relations representative Sarah Gilles, Secretary Janeal Clersainville, and Historian Chinedu Okasi.
Maxwell Kofi Donkor, who simply goes by Kofi, is not just the director of the drum ensemble. Coming from Ghana, he is an African Master Drummer, traditional sculptor, and cultural educator. Kofi and his ensemble travel around the world and are internationally recognized. They educate schools and people everywhere about African culture through the power of music.
Even though the end of February is also the end of Black History Month, Kofi Donkor reminded the crowd that Black History Month should be everyday. His message to come together, express yourself, and love one another rang throughout the school, and reverberated in the minds of those who were there.