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21 Century Charter Middle School does Black History all HANDS ON

Beyoncé and Ka’Maya Straughter

The 21st Century Charter Middle School will present Black History Month in a more hands on, interactive way this year. The seventh-grade social studies class was tasked with creating an interactive Black history museum. In response to the challenge, the class recreated historical moments in the life of notable African Americans inside the school.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andre Tolbert

In this museum students can get on the Rosa Parks’ bus, sit in segregated sections of lunch counters and train stations, as well as look on as the first open heart surgery was performed by an African American. The Black History is American History Interactive Museum began in January with ceremonies to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congresswoman Katie Hall from Gary, Indiana. Congresswoman Hall introduced the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day National Holiday bill and through her efforts worked until it was signed into law.

“We wanted our scholars to do more than what was done year after year. We wanted them to embrace the stories of these heroes and heroines,” said McKenya Dilworth, seventh-grade social studies and English teacher at 21st Century Middle School.

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Diahann Carroll and Ka’Mayah Straughter

Now through February 29, 2020, classrooms within the school travel through time as they engage in a trip to the school’s second floor. It begins on the staircase where the seventh graders enter an imaginary timeline beginning with the Middle Passage. As they climb the stairs the students continue the interactive museum experience learning about African American history. They gain more than a cursory knowledge of the Black experience from the cotton fields through the Civil Rights Movement.

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Jackie Robinson and Kenyon Moore


The students were also tasked with the responsibility of not only selecting a historical African American figure, but in essence, becoming them through a photo and then turning in a research paper on that same person.

All month long the seventh graders will serve as history docents for the lower grades who visit the museum. The 21st Century Middle School is located at 724 Washington Street in Gary.

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Aretha Franklin and Maya Shotwell

As the culminating event to the month, there will be a Black History Trivia Night at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at the D Perf Mance Comedy Theatre, 500 South Lake Street in Gary. This event will allow teams from across the city to compete in a friendly test of their Black History knowledge for the prestigious title of Black History Scholar 2020.

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Tupac and Keyonte Cloma

There will also be performances dedicated to Black history between each trivia round by MBTP 21C Drama group.

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Bessie Coleman and Yvette Stewart



For more information about the museum and trivia night contact McKenya Dilworth at 219-308-7630.

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