Black History Month studied through children’s creativity

The city of New Iberia Parks and Recreation Department since 1995 has spearheaded an art project for area school students to dig a little deeper into the history of Blacks in America through depicting heros and events in various artistic renderings. More than 75 submissions were received this year from 10 area schools. 

A cooperative effort between the city, Iberia Parish Libraries, Iberia Parish Schools, the Iberia African American Historial Society, with sponsors Holiday Sporting Goods and CLECO. The annual “Great Portraits or Scenes in African American History: A Youth Art Festival” concluded last week and the winning submissions are featured today. 

Children ages 6 to 18 were invited to draw a portrait or scene representing Black History. Winners were not easily determined by the group of judges whose criteria for selection varied from artistic approach — always subject to interpretation — age of students, subject matter and how the artist researched the subject. In the beginning, Judge Charles Porter wanted to inspire young students in the West End to learn about Black History by going into the Iberia Parish Library and finding books on various people and subjects. With the advent of the Internet and hand-held digital devices, students were more often referencing an online search or website.

Representatives from the sponsoring organizations helped to determine the forerunners for each age group, which was limited in submissions by the older students and heavy in elementary levels. Among the judges were CLECO’s Lance LeBlanc and David Butler, Susan Dorsey and Mary Hochless representing the Iberia African American Historial Society, and the Teche Life editor at The Daily Iberian.

“I personally see, I’m even learning some things I didn’t even know about,” said Butler. “Everybody knows Dr. Martin Luther King, but there are a lot of others. And I want them to know you don’t have to be

an athlelete, there’s a ballet dancer here. Everybody has a passion or a gift, you can do different things. That’s what I like.” 

Butler said he isn’t really a Facebook follower but through Black History Month people have been posting stories about inventors of the GPS and lawnmowers, even the engine for washing machines was invented by a person of color.

Each student had a different take on the experience but one summed it up for all.

“It doesn’t matter what color you are, you can do great things,” said Nate Denton, student at Highland Baptist Christian School.

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