Students, educators, civic leaders and community partners throughout the Magic City gathered together last week to participate in and watch an original Black History performance written and produced by local Birmingham students.
Presented by Huffman High School’s Fine Arts Department as well as students from several other schools across the city, the inspirational performance—titled “My Voice Will Cry Out: Young, Gifted and Dreaming in Black”—celebrates past and present civil rights legends.
Significance of Black History Month
Odessa Woolfolk addressing Huffman High School students on February 25, 2022. (United Way of Central Alabama)
Odessa Woolfolk, the first director of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and beloved civil rights leader, began the event with opening remarks about the significance of Black History Month.
“As a former school teacher in the Birmingham school system, I am more at home when I am in the presence of high school students than anywhere else. You are my friends,” Woolfolk said directly to the students with a smile.
“Knowing about your past, your present and your future is essential. When Carter G Woodson in 1926 ‘fathered’ the idea of what was then called Negro History Week, he said that our purpose is really to lift up ourselves and others, the wonderful past and present of people of our background. Thank you so much for being what you are. You are the future of our country and I am glad to be here in your presence.”
The inspirational 30 minute performance featured dance, music, singing, poetry and dramatic monologues that celebrated the spirit of Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks as well as several Alabama foot soldiers.
Here is the entire performance:
At the conclusion of the performance, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin reminded the students and the audience the role they now must embrace because they are citizens of Birmingham.
“Remember the history. Remember the generations that came before you. Remember the shoulders we all stand on. Any form of injustice—because you are sons and daughters of the city of Birmingham—you are responsible for speaking out against it. It doesn’t matter that you are 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 years of age. It doesn’t matter that you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior in high school. When you see an injustice, based on our history, based on the change we made in the world—we are now the next generation, responsible for speaking up and speaking out and organizing against any injustice.”
The performance and event at Huffman was made possible by several groups, Including:
- City of Birmingham
- City of Birmingham Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity
- National Park Service
- Make It Happen Theatre Company
- United Way of Central Alabama
- J. Mason Davis Leadership Society
- Birmingham City Schools, including Huffman High School
“We were pleased to support the Huffman Theatre Department and the students on their journey through an important part of American history,” Samuetta Nesbitt, United Way of Central Alabama.