History, culture and exercise


Knowing people before you have achieved great things through reading and hearing might inspire you to believe you can too. Acting as a person who has made history will challenge you to do the same, at least that’s what the River Road African American Museum Society (RRAAMS) is expecting. The RRAAMS put together a group of kids to perform at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and Donaldsonville’s RRAAM had three kids perform.

Jamilah Peters-Muhammad, of New Orleans, works with Donaldsonville’s Kathe Hambrick, and Umar Bey from Baton Rouge’s Black Inventor’s Museum, to put together a historical cultural lesson for the children to perform at the festival. For this year’s performance the children acted as black inventors. The three from Donaldsonville were: Tamiko Stroud as Michael Jackson, Lyndria Spurlock as Madame C.J. Walker, and Demaris Johnson.

Peters-Muhammad said the importance of knowing that somebody else did it, but having the strength of being able to say even if nobody’s done it before “I have that burning in me and I believe that I can.”

“When you look at accomplishments of others it makes you understand that there is nothing you can’t do,” she said, “and that there is a greatness inside you that will allow you to do those things.”

Peters-Muhammad, Hambrick and Bey have been attending and collaborating at the Jazz Fest for five years, but the trio has been strong active in promoting an “East meets West” program where the people east of the Mississippi River share with the people west of it.

“A lot of times our children get involved in negative activity where they are fighting over different territories and neighborhoods,” Hambrick said. “We wanted to have a way to bring these young people together so they could know each other and get to participate in some positive cultural activities.”

The sides have been meeting for now for 12 years of Juneteenth Celebrations and five years of Jazz fest and Hambrick said the young people have grown up together and they understand that they have a shared culture and “it’s just very important that we bring our young people together.”

At the festival, the children were entertainers at the Kids Tent and the RRAAMS brought the history of the black culture to life with African Dancers, a Silhouette Dance Ensemble, New Orleans Dance Collective, and the Black Inventors Museum.

“The children are learning the importance of their culture and not just modern fads, but continuing the legacy of tradition,” Bey said. “It’s important for our children to get involved in our history so they can actually learn and not just read about it.”

The children participated and learned the art and craft of African drumming and dance, which is something Hambrick said can build as a hobby and “it helps to keep them healthy and with positive thinking.”

“It’s history, culture, exercise and just a way to be involved in something positive in our community,” Hambrick said.

Hambrick added: “We are looking for more young people to participate in Jazz Fest next year. These young people will also be participating in Juneteenth with Tamiko Stroud who is now the chairperson of the community event in Donaldsonville.”

For more information on how to participate contact Kathe Hambrick at (225) 474-5553