Black History Month 2024: First Class- Ch. 1 It Is What It Is

This year for Black History Month we’ll review chapter by chapter Alison Stewart’s First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School. This is more Truxton Circle related then this blog’s previous annual looks at Shaw resident and founder of Negro History Week (later Black history month) Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Mis-Education of the Negro. As Dunbar High School is located in Truxton Circle currently taking up all of Square 554.

The Introduction hinted at the Dunbar High School (DHS) band, chapter one goes into more detail.

It starts in 2004 when music educator Rodney Chambers discovered DHS didn’t have a band director and managed to get a paid job at the school. From there he discovered all sorts of problems that most inner city Black schools experienced. DHS’ grand past had little relationship to its present. Despite that, he managed to grow and improve the band program.

The path to the 2009 Obama inauguration was long. DHS was one of over a thousand applications. Chambers did not advertise that he’d applied for the chance for his band to march. On the day of the parade there were problems. Some kids went missing.

At this point I will take a break from the book to remember the day before. The band was practicing all over the neighborhood. It was a real treat to see the band marching down my street. I took pictures.

Okay, back to the book.

After the inaugural parade there were comments on a Youtube video as well as other negative feedback regarding their performance. The dance team was a little too spicy.

The point of the first chapter was to show where the school was in the late aughts. The next chapter goes back in time to the beginning, where academics were key and excellence was something to be achieved.

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