TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Wednesday, Hillcrest High School held its Black History Month program, weeks after many students claimed school officials weren’t allowing them to talk about topics like the civil rights movement or slavery in the program.
More than 1,000 people attended a Black History Month program at Hillcrest Wednesday morning, including students, parents, community activists and many from the community. Many students said they were happy about how the program went because they showcased African culture and slavery.
African culture was on full display in the Hillcrest High School gym with African dance performances, as well as songs from the 1970s and 1990s to show how Black Americans have shaped American culture.
“I am excited for everyone to be educated about Black history and we are so excited about everyone being here so we can educate everyone and have a good time and express our culture,” student Jamiyah Brown said.
On Feb. 8, more than 200 students walked out of school in protest, claiming the administration would not allow them to discuss slavery or civil rights in the program.
“At the beginning, it was stressful because we’ve had lots of hardships with the program and countless hours rehearsing and we had people come in telling us what we can and can’t do, trying to limit what we can do, but in the end, it all worked out pretty fine,” student Reginal King Jr. said.
Some students said it was a struggle, but they were able to showcase Black history, including slavery. However, despite all the controversy surrounding the program, students were pleased with the way things worked out.
“Without African Americans and without slavery, there wouldn’t be African Americans and slavery was an important component of how we’ve grown from gospel music that was made in a time when they were oppressed but they found hope and they expressed that through music and dance,” student Adia Lother said.
“It was lots of blood, sweat and tears and we started planning this back in November,” student Jada Holt said. “And I am very happy with the way it came out. There were lots of bumps in the road, but we got through it and did a good job,” Jada Holt said.
Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Keri Johnson was also in attendance at the Black history program. She declined to comment, saying she wanted the day to be about the students.