• Mary Harrison

SAGE celebrates Black History Month at CHS

Mr. Jimmie C. Gardner (third from left) poses with SAGE officers (l-r) Cedric Brown (Sophomore), treasurer; Madison DeVoux (Sophomore), president; Crystal Mills (Junior), vice president; Gavin Garland (Junior), public relations manager; and Genesis Delva (Junior), secretary.

Last week, the Cairo High School Student Advocates for Georgia Education (SAGE) organized Black History Month celebrations for high schoolers and the Cairo community. Two programs were arranged, one with community-wide participation, held the evening of Thursday, February 20, and the other, specifically for CHS students, held the following morning, on Friday, February 21.

Both programs were emceed by CHS Sophomore Madison DeVoux, president of SAGE, and Junior Crystal Mills, the club’s vice president. They featured the CHS Chorus, directed by Ms. Erikka Edwards; the CHS Red & Black Dance Team, directed by Mrs. Hannah Russell; and the CHS Jazz Band, directed by Mr. John Scanling, as well as the FIRM Dance Company. The emcees also kept the audience laughing with a skit and an impromptu singing competition.

The 2nd annual community-wide event included speeches by Kristen Robinson, Natalie Moore, and Cameron Stewart, winners of SAGE’s Black History Speech Contest for the high school, middle school, and elementary divisions, respectively. The three Grady County students shared with the audience their responses to the prompt “What does Black History mean to you?”

Above, Kristen Robinson, Natalie Moore, and Cameron Stewart, give their winning speeches for SAGE’s Black History Speech Contest.

Other performers on Thursday evening were Rhythm of Heart Dance, Ministry through Dance, and Tallahassee’s Omega Lamp Lighters, according to CHS science teacher Ms. Royale Armstrong. Featured speaker Mr. Jevar McGhee, Grand Marshal of the 2020 MLK Day parade, shared an overview of African American history with the audience, urging them to remember their heritage as “overcomers.”

During Friday’s assembly, the 4th annual Black History Month assembly for CHS students, Chorus members performed a song with the high school’s Voices of Cairo show choir, which is directed by Mr. Joshua Moore. Sophomore Olivia Woods also performed a dramatic monologue for the 9th- to 12th-graders that were gathered in the CHS gymnasium.

On Thursday evening, Ms. Edwards leads the CHS Chorus and audience in the African American anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Guest speaker Mr. Jimmie C. Gardner shared with the high schoolers about his experiences while being wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years. Mr. Gardner, who was released from jail and cleared of all charges in 2016, currently travels as a motivational speaker through his ministry JC Gardner Speaks and runs Gardner House, Inc., a program to help former inmates assimilate into society.

Mr. Gardner urged CHS students, whom he dubbed “kings and queens,” to remember they are “Somebody Worthy, Awesome Thankful, and Special,” ("S.W.A.T.S."). He also advised students on ways they can protect themselves from wrongful imprisonment.

Mr. Harold Edwards, SAGE club sponsor and CHS science teacher, said the week was a success, and that he wants SAGE- sponsored Black History Month celebrations to become a tradition in Grady County.

“[These programs] help people to learn about Black culture and to understand its importance for all Americans,” he asserted.

“I hope they will continue as long as there is a Cairo High School.”

Enjoy the following slideshow, featuring SAGE sponsor Mr. Harold Edwards, Thursday's guest speaker Mr. Jevar McGhee, and performances by the CHS R&B Dance Team, FIRM Dance Company, and CHS Jazz Band.

Click on the following articles for videos of Friday's dance performances and an exclusive R&B interview of Mr. Gardner.

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