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Muslim School Celebrates Black History Month With Play

By Katie Honan | March 3, 2017 6:32pm | Updated on March 6, 2017 2:48pm
 The school had its first Black History Month celebration in its more than 20-year history. 
Woodside Muslim School Celebrates Black History Month with Play
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Wearing glasses, a red blazer and a white head scarf, 9-year-old Ruba Osman stepped out from behind a curtain to take a seat on the stage version of a bus.

The narrator, Muniba Rahman, then told the story of Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader whose refusal to move to the back of a city bus was a significant moment in Civil Rights history.  

"Rosa cannot take this treatment any longer," Rahman said, as Osman defiantly remains in her seat. 

"No!," Osman said, when asked to move. Their classmates at The Razi School cheered on in the dress rehearsal for the school's first Black History Month celebration and play. 

School officials said it was a way to expand their international celebration, which takes place in March and honors students' cultural background, representing more than 30 countries. 

While only a few students at the school are African-American, everyone felt it was important to learn about the country's history, particularly under the current political climate, they said. 

Ali Ismail, 9, researched his role of Thurgood Marshall by reading books about his childhood and law history. 

"It feels good, it's an important topic," he said. "He fought for desegregation."

Osman said portraying Parks was an honor. 

"It's important to express how I feel, how African Americans changed our history," she said.

Students and teachers collaborated on which historical figures to represent, writing skits based on history and significance, they said. So alongside Parks and Marshall, there were Barack and Michelle Obama, Jackie Robinson and Ibtijah Muhammad, who won a bronze medal at last year's Olympics in Rio.

Zaara Ahmed, 9, chose Muhammad because she was impressed by her Olympic performance.

"You don't even see a Muslim woman fencing," she said, noting that Muhammad, the first Muslim athlete to fence in a hijab, "made the scarf look good by tucking it inside her helmet."

Jara Fall, 7, one of the school's few African-American students, memorized former First Lady Michelle Obama's final speech.

"I did one paragraph and memorized it," she said proudly. "When she says, 'you have to empower yourself.' It's exciting and I'm very happy to be Michelle."

Fatema Osman, who teaches fourth grade at the school, said all of the students from first through fourth grade were involved in the play though they only had a few days to prepare.

The month was filled with midterm exams and a science fair, but students still memorized their lines and researched their roles.

"It just seems more important to stand up for minorities now," she said.