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Clements Middle holds special Black History Month program

Clements Middle School celebrated the last day of Black History Month with a lineup of musical performances and speakers at the school Friday.

The student body filled the gymnasium for the school’s fourth annual Black History Month program, "Civil Rights in America."

The middle school chorus and band performed special selections and student artwork was shown, including a work that depicted the well-known "Rosie the Riveter" piece with a black woman as Rosie and a "We can do it!" message.

Some of the significant people students mentioned during the program included the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, baseball legend Jackie Robinson, President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama, and a number of others.

Retired Tuskegee Airman Col. LaVaughn Jenkins spoke to students about his time in the U.S. Army Air Forces. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces who fought in World War II.

In addition to sharing some of his experiences, Jenkins told students that hard work, a good education and a good attitude all contribute to success.

"If you work harder, use your head to think, you will be successful," he said. "Drill your heart into it and never, ever quit. Quitting should never be an option."

The Rev. Dr. Natosha Reid Rice, an attorney and associate pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, challenged students to have a dream and a positive headline for their lives. She gave examples of stories from the news where young lives were lost in senseless crimes.

"Make sure the choices you make today will make your dreams come to pass," Rice said.

Rice also told students about the Children’s Crusade, a 1963 Civil Rights movement in Birmingham, in which more than 2,000 who marched through the town in an effort to integrate department stores and other business. The students were arrested and jailed.

She also told students about the Freedom Riders campaign and some of its leaders, such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta and Diane Nash, who were young teens when they road buses into the segregated South in 1961 to integrate transportation.

Clark King, an Apollo Theater amateur night winner who plans to audition for "American Idol" this year, performed several songs during the program, including "Go Down Moses," "I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired," and "Everyday People."