It’s not every day students and teachers play African drums and step dance across the auditorium stage at WCHS. However, that happened Friday during a fundraiser for the school’s Black History Club.
Teacher Malcolm Montgomery emceed the event which showcased students on the step team and had performances by Wayne Wolford and the African Dance Performers.
Jerica Haywood, Tia Perkins and Jasmine Pinegar told the audience some black history facts.
The students told about W.E.B. Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author and editor. After graduating from Harvard, where Du Bois was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Du Bois strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment.
They also told of Hiram Revels of Mississippi , who became the first black U.S. senator in 1870.
Wolford interacted with the audience by singing, “A funga a lafiya,” and asking the audience to sing, “Ashay ashay” each time he sang the intro. “This means we welcome you with open arms,” said Wolford.
Wolford and the African Dance Performers danced and played a variety of instruments including the cununo, armpit drum and rainstick. Montgomery and his daughter, Jeremia, joined the group by playing drums.
The African Dance Performers relied on the faced-paced, upbeat rhythm of the drums to entertain the crowd with their moves.
Step team members also amazed onlookers with their rhythm and precision. Step dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the dancers's entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps.
Students in the audience were able to get in the action when Wolford asked for volunteers who liked to samba to come to the stage. Several students enjoyed themselves by jumping onstage, dancing and singing, “Yes, we want to samba!”
The club meets under the direction of Jalane Grayson, Tina Ramsey, Montgomery and Wolford.