Lufkin Middle School students hosted a Black History Month presentation for their parents and peers called “The Dream Lives On” Thursday afternoon.
“Welcome to the 2020 Lufkin Middle School Black History Month Program,” Adeline Mopur said. “Allow us to recognize the strength, determination and courage of the dreamers of the past.”
“Even though they faced many challenges, these people rose to success and paved the way for others,” Aria Nunn said. “We would like to refer to their accomplishments as ‘African American Milestone Moments.’”
Adeline and Aria narrated and announced each act as the program progressed. Students honored key African American influencers of history from the 1850s all the way to current times. They sang, danced, spoke, acted and more.
“Benjamin Davis Jr. enlisted into the military to serve this country,” Landon Trapp said. “In 1943, he led the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black pilot program. Join me in saluting the determination of General Davis.”
Aria and Adeline said the Tuskegee Airmen changed U.S. military history forever, and their story was made into a movie called “Red Tails.”
Jamieon Garrett, Casey Burse, Lukas Murrell, Zomorion Young and Decorian Jenkins put on a skit arguing about which African American athlete was the GOAT — greatest of all time.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee; the greatest of all time is Muhammad Ali,” Jamieon said. “He was the heavyweight champion of the world. His trash talk was backed up by powerful punching ability. After his boxing career, he continued to fight against racism and crime.”
“Hold on, hold up, wait a minute. Kobe Bryant has to be the GOAT,” Lukas said. “He led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships. He was an 18-year all star. He is third on the all-time scoring list. He could even speak three languages. Kobe Bryant had to be the GOAT.”
The Lufkin Middle School dance team performed to “River” by Bishop Briggs in honor of Alvin Ailey.
“Alvin Ailey was a dancer and choreographer,” Aria said. “His vision was to create a dance theater where people of all races could display their talents.”
Hannah Shaw performed a tribute to Ruby Bridges.
“On Nov. 14, 1960, I, Ruby Bridges, became the first African American child to attend a white elementary school in the South,” Hannah said. “Can you believe people threatened to kill me? In fact, due to angry mobs and death threats, U.S. Marshalls escorted my mother and I to class. What a brave little girl I was.”
The crowd went wild when Amari Thomas gave a reenactment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and even parents cracked up when Julian Chavez did the moonwalk to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”
They honored the women of NASA mentioned in the “Hidden Figures” movie and spoke about hometown heroes Winnie Mae and Ecomet Burley Sr.
“Mr. and Mrs. Ecomet Burley Sr. made outstanding contributions to the community,” Rachel Varghese said. “After graduating from Texas College, Mr. Burley received his master’s in education administration from Prairieview A&M University. He spent 30 years in education. After teaching speech, science, English and math, he became a principal. Mr. Burley was principal at the first ever Brandon Elementary School. In 1991, the Ecomet Burley Sr. scholarship was established.”
“Mrs. Burley was not only a teacher and a track coach, but so much more. To many young people, she served as a mentor and a role model,” Cora Rush said. “Her kind words and gentle spirit made a tremendous impact on her former students. After retiring from Lufkin High School, Mrs. Burley served on the Lufkin School Board for many years. In fact, the Texas State Board of Education honored her as a hero for children. In 2010, Burley Primary was built to honor their memory.”
The students honored Tiger Woods for being the first African American to win the Masters golf championship, Colin Powell for serving as the first African American secretary of state, Tyler Perry, aka Madea, for becoming the first African American to start his own film and television studio, Barack Obama for being elected as the first African American president and more.
“Wow! There is so much more that we could share, but we will stop here,” Adeline said. “Remember — set goals, work hard and keep the dream alive.”