A teacher sits next to a student on bench in a crowded cafeteria. Both are looking ahead and smiling.

Blacktastic Was Fantastic!

What a day! Thank you to everyone for joining us for Blacktastic, the Children’s Festival of Maryland Black History & Culture! For the third year in a row, attendees enjoyed six engaging, arts-infused workshops that celebrated and educated viewers about historic Black Marylanders–and each workshop was supplemented with in-class lessons from an activity book containing hands-on activities to expand on the experience. We reached 43,975 students and 1,746 teachers this year–and with the help of generous sponsors, were able to cover the registration costs for over 12,000 of those students!

We got to see the magic and excitement of Blacktastic first-hand. Teachers and students at Creative City Public Charter School loved spending the day tapping out beats and measures; connecting to poetry, history, and activism; learning the values of musical notes; visiting historical sites around Maryland; and dancing to the music of marching bands and Eubie Blake alike! One teacher rolled up the carpet in his classroom to allow students to tap along with Quynn Johnson while learning about drummer Chick Webb. Across the room, students’ faces reflected joy and concentration as each child challenged themselves to get the steps just right.

Three students completing a worksheet with pencils.

In another class, students huddled together in focused groups. After watching The Roots & Rhythm of Chick Webb, they learned to identify musical notes and the value (time) notes represent as parts of a whole (fractions). Using their knowledge of the value of musical notes, these students were working together to decode and solve math problems!

Peeking into another classroom, we saw young students twirling, swaying, and moving to the music of legendary jazz pianist Eubie Blake. On the screen, artist Renée Georges and her band led the children through song and even toured the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. In the classroom, children were given the space to not only hear a sound from another era, but feel it through their bodies, dancing as the soft light from the projection filtered into the room.

Students standing, looking ahead for direction.

And we can’t forget trivia time! There is nothing like the excitement of Blacktastic Trivia in a classroom. Everyone was bursting with excitement to share what they learned–and indeed, they did learn! Over the three-hour program, students learned that Lillie Carroll Jackson was known as the “Mother of Freedom.” They learned that Matthew Henson was the first person to reach the geographic North Pole; that Chick Webb was prescribed drumming by his doctor; that Mother Mary Lange opened the first school for Black children in Baltimore; that Eubie Blake wrote a Broadway musical called Shuffle Along; and that Lucille Clifton was Maryland’s Poet Laureate. We can only imagine what an awesome journey through history we’ll take next year. 

Did you know that the teaching artists who brought this history to life can be brought into your classroom? Learn about our Blacktastic artists and the historical figures we celebrated on our website at artsforlearningmd.org/blacktastic.