Students filtered into the auditorium, class-by-class, at Withrow University High School on Friday, September 29, not for a typical school assembly, but for a day centered on youth empowerment and African American education. The special event, Youth Day, was presented by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and facilitated by the Kiamsha Youth Empowerment Organization.
Youth Day is a program featuring teens who are members of the Kiamsha Youth Empowerment Organization who travel to high schools to educate their peers on Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of black history, through entertainment. This year’s theme for Youth Day was “The Crisis in Black Education” and what that means to this generation.
The Kiamsha students performed skits that asked important questions about how black history is taught in schools and how students can take history and apply it today.
Withrow High School students were shown the documentary “The Children’s March” about May 2, 1963, when black students in Birmingham, Alabama were willing to get arrested for equal rights. Over the course of that week in history, more than 5,000 children and teenagers were arrested. They were fearless and proved that young people can make a difference. Shortly thereafter on June 11, 1963, John F. Kennedy announced the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Calvern Dunn, Kiamsha advisor and mentor gave the keynote speech to a full auditorium. He shared a variety of statistics, such as the disproportionate number of African Americans who are incarcerated. While African Americans only make up 13 percent of the population in America, they make up 67 percent of the incarcerated population.
He left the students with a choice, a pen or a pencil. A pen leads to a penitentiary, but the pencil was the choice for education and a world of opportunity.
The City of Cincinnati proclaimed September 29, 2017 as National Youth Day at Withrow High School.
Special guests at the event included the Honorable Cecil Thomas, state senator and Withrow High School alumnus, and William Myles, assistant superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools.
Learn more and keep up with Withrow High School at https://withrow.cps-k12.org/.