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Learning about history with song, dance in Dix Hills

Dancers from Venette's Cultural Workshop perform a selection

Dancers from Venette's Cultural Workshop perform a selection about black women. Pictured from left to right are Kristen Ford, 18; Brionne Burns, 16; Jada Singletray, 16; Jasmine Gobourne, 17. (Feb. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Kaitlynn Mannino

They drummed. They swayed. They leapt. They learned about their history.

Children and adults alike did it all at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library's Black History Month celebration. Hand-drawn portraits of famous black authors, actors, musicians and entrepreneurs lined the walls, and some even had tributes dedicated to them on stage.

More than 100 people gathered to watch presentations that detailed black achievement and history presented by the Mother's Club of Wheatley Heights and the Concerned Father's Association.

"It's our responsibility to educate the broader community," said Sandra Thomas, one of the Mother's Club founders. The afternoon was filled with plays and music devoted to the movers and shakers of the Harlem Renaissance and to facets of black history like Kwanzaa.

"Kids learn a lot through song and dance," said Linda Taylor, owner of Touch Points Productions and coordinator for the event's theatrical elements. "That is what inspires me to teach."

Taylor wrote and directed the play "African-American Milestones in Medicine," which detailed the contributions of pioneering figures from scientist George Washington Carver to physician and astronaut Mae Jemison. Taylor said she seeks to educate children about history through her plays, songs and dances.

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