Umoja reads to Foothill Elementary first graders


BreAnna Crawford

Zachary Castelluccio reads to a group of students.

BreAnna Crawford , @Lyniece_

For the last week of Black History Month, the Umoja Scholars Program had their annual BHM reading. Students and staff went to Foothill Elementary and attended first grade classrooms to read books about Black history to the children.

Student success and retention program coordinator T’Sendenia Gage enjoyed the opportunity to come and read to the children she said, because it was a great way to have children learn more and be engaged in black history.

“It was a very nice and less invasive way to share history, experiences and authors from African-American culture with children,” said Gage.

As a proud black woman, Gage believes that children can gain knowledge no matter the age when it comes to learning about black history even when it isn’t Black History Month.

“February just happens to be Black History Month and oftentimes there is an underrepresentation of what that month means to the people and the history,” said Gage.

The Black History reading was started by Dr. Akilah Moore who used to be the Dean of Math and Science here on campus. With the help of the Foothill Elementary School principal Yvonne Nelson and LMC counselor Faith Watkins, they created the program and allows students and staff to have the opportunity to give back to the community.

“The readings allows the students to have a community connection between the college and the elementary schools,” said Watkins.

It encourages elementary students to want to attend college when they grow up, and to see someone that looks like them do it. Anyone can take part in the reading regardless of their race or ethnicity. LMC student Erick Amaya volunteered to read to the children as well, because he believed that it is important for children to grasp Black history as it is an important part of American history.

“Talking to young children about black history is important because they should know the suffering people of color went through,” Amaya said.

The children were excited and engaged with the stories of the  Black History that Gage and Amaya were telling.

“I really enjoyed when the students expressed to their teacher that they didn’t want to continue with their planned day, because they wanted me to read more to them” said Gage.

Amaya was also both happy with the responses they got back from the children.

“Hearing the excitement from the children when Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists were mentioned made me smile,” said Amaya.

As Black History Month comes to an end, the stories and history carry on. The month which originally used to be only the second week of February, Negro History Week, has impacted the lives of many Americans because Black history is American history.