MOVING WORDS, DANCE AND MUSIC TAKE CENTER STAGE AT A CELEBRATION FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
BY RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
Most Wednesdays, North Miami resident Ducles Vermeil takes both of his children to the library to read about the lives of historic African Americans.
But on a recent Wednesday, during their trip to the North Miami Public library, 835 NE 132nd St., Duclailson Vermeil, 10, and Roselaure Vermeil, 7, did nore than just turn pages.
They were part of 100 people who watched students play African American pioneers at the library’s first Black History showcase event on Feb. 24.
Vermeil said seeing students recite and perform meaningful poems and music inspired his kids.
“It will help them motivate themselves and know that they can do stuff that they want to do if they focus in life,” he said.
At the library’s program room, a crowd watched students ranging from fifth to 12th grades pay homage to black pioneers who contributed to the human spirit through dancing, reciting poems and famous speeches and playing musical instruments.
North Miami High School sophomore Maylander Menard, 15, had recited The Negro Mother by poet Langston Hughes.
“When you play the role you get to feel the experience and the motions they went through,” she said.
Before taking stage, Maylander said she felt nervous but forgot about her butterflies once she recited.
“I could feel the anger by the tone and diction and words he used,” said Maylander, who is in her school’s drama club. “I felt it.”
In the past, the library has celebrated Black History month by hosting essay and painting contests. This year directorJoyce Pernicone wanted to do more.
“We wanted something that captured all of the spirit of the month to help understand what the children are learning,” she said.
The library held auditions earlier this month to choose the 18 cast members. The city of North Miami also helped with the effort, providing and helping set up the stage, which had a red, black and green curtain, Pernicone said.
North Miami Mayor Andre D. Pierre said the event is fitting for a diverse city.
“We all are constantly learning from each other,” he said.
At the event, parents, officials and children snapped their fingers and sang along with Farah Cabe, who sang This Little Light of Mine.
The library also partnered with North Miami High School’s dance ensemble.
The group danced to an African American spiritual song I Want To Be Ready.
The show concluded with the entire cast singing a cappella to R&B musicians R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly.
Hans Tanis, 10, was another musical performer who played the violin and guitar. Even though he had practiced for about a month, he still had butterflies in his stomach.
“I was nervous in the beginning,” said Hans, who played Duke Ellington’s Preacher Don’t Send Me and the Civil Rights anthem We Shall Overcome.
“But when I did the first few notes I told myself I was going to do it right.”
As for Vermeil, he said he will continue reading to his children about famous African American’s such as Martin Luther King Jr.
“This will help them learn about their ancestors and their past,” he said.