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Schools

Reliving milestones

Moore Mickens Education Center students re-enact achievements in black history and celebrate the school's own place in Dade City's black history.

By MICHELE MILLER
Published February 28, 2007


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DADE CITY

Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Charles R. Drew, Vanessa Williams, Condoleeza Rice, Mae Jemison.

They made history by being the first: The first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The first black major league baseball player. The first black surgeon. The first black Miss America. The first black woman to serve as secretary of state. The first black woman to fly into space.

Their names and others have been on the minds and the lips of high school students who last week were part of the Black History Month celebration held at Moore Mickens Education Center.

There were readings of Langston Hughes' poems and the prose of former slave and abolitionist, Sojourner Truth. Students sang songs. Some took part in a dance step performance.

Others re-enacted history by taking on the roles of Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, the four black students from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University) who first sat down at the "whites only" lunch counter at the Woolworth's in Greensboro, N.C.

That act, in 1960, initiated larger protests that spread throughout the state and became a milestone in the civil rights movement.

School alumni and members of the community were invited to the annual black history event, which was held in the cafeteria against a banner that read, "Moore Mickens Education Center - A Chance for Change."

No doubt that slogan resonates today as it does in the history of Moore Mickens, which was the first permanent school for blacks in Dade City.

According to the school's Web site, most classes for blacks were held in local churches until Arthmus Roberts, a local barber with little education himself, planted the seeds for a real school by bringing professor J.S. Moore to Dade City to teach. Professor O.K. Mickens came on board a little later.

In 1939, Moore donated property on Whitehouse Avenue and Moore Academy was born. In 1952, a new elementary school was built to accommodate the growing student body. That school, located on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., is still part of the current Moore Mickens Education Center.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

It's important history, one that social studies teacher and event organizer Troy Moore wants all of his students and the community to know and be proud of.

Moore, who is no relation to the original founder, remembers well his parents' stories of attending segregated schools in Fort Lauderdale and his own turmoil that came from being bused 45 minutes to a predominantly white school when desegregation was instituted in 1970.

"It was definitely different. It was hard. I remember feeling out of place - not knowing what to expect," he said.

It's a feeling he doesn't want any of his students to experience at their own school.

That's why the event encompasses students of all races and backgrounds, said Moore - from Davasha Watts who came to him wanting to read a piece by Sojourner Truth, to Tiffany Linville who was in charge of making the sets for the Woolworth's counter.

"The entire school contributes. The kids, for the most part, take it and run with it," he said. "And I think they do learn from it - they grasp it."

Fast Facts:

On the Web

For more information on Black History Month go to:

- mmec.pasco.k12.fl.us/pages/history.htm

- fivay.org/dade_city_black.html

- fivay.org/education2.html

[Last modified February 28, 2007, 07:18:38]


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