Black history celebrated at Brawley Union High

March 01, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

Brenda Haley, careers specialist at Brawley Union High School, is proud to be an educator — and proud to be an African-American.

So it stands to reason that Haley would be the prime mover behind a multi-faceted display of African-American culture in celebration of Black History Month at her school.

Asked what Black History Month means to her, Haley said "It's a time to celebrate how far we've come and to enjoy the riches of our culture, just to express ourselves and let the world know that we're proud of our African-American culture."

With pride and enthusiasm, Haley set up the showcase in the school's library, and Thursday and today, students have been coming in with their teachers to view the exhibits and watch an overview of African-American history on video.


Introducing the video to the first class to come through the exhibition Thursday afternoon, Haley explained, "In order for you to know a little bit about African-American culture, you need to start from the beginning — how the Africans came to the new world of the United States and how their history ties into that of Greece and Egypt."

Haley went on to tell the students the video would explain how the first Africans to come to America did not come as slaves but as free people who actually arrived before the Mayflower.

After watching the video, the class of ninth-graders and their student teacher, Jessica Aceves, wandered through the exhibits, which included a table devoted to artifacts from Kenya and Uganda, a display of records from some of the greats of African-American music and a table laden with biographies of famous African-American leaders who have helped shape American history.

Around the walls Haley had positioned a rich display of African-American art and a table display popular with many of the students was one devoted to the many African-American sporting greats.

Fifteen-year-old student Corrina Cardoza picked up a book of African-American quotations and began to read aloud in a soft voice, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

"… I won't have any money to leave behind

No luxurious things in life to leave behind

But I just want to leave a committed life behind …"

Aceves said her students would go back into class and write essays, reflections on what they had learned from coming to the exhibition.

"I want them to explain how this relates to their own cultures … I'll ask them to compare and contrast the African-American culture to their own cultures."

BUHS Principal Bud Smith, watching the video with the students, said I certainly believe in the importance of the work Brenda Haley has done here and it is important that our students see and learn from this exhibition."

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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