The Daily Southerner
“Motown memories” was the theme of a second-grade PTO program at Stocks Elementary School Monday evening.
“Stop! In the name of love,” the students sang while holding out their right hand like a stop sign, “before you break my heart,” they continued, placing a hand over their heart. “Think it o-o-ver.”
The tunes of the Supremes, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye flowed from the mouths of the spirited 7- and 8-year olds, who had the moves to go along with the 1960’s and 70’s music.
“The beat and the rhythm of this music, the kids just love it,” said Courtney Beckstead, a second grade teacher. “We were talking about the 60’s and the Civil Rights movement, so we tried to find music that related to that time.”
Shaziyah Bell enjoyed singing the Supremes’ songs. She wore long gloves for the occasion in the style of the Supremes.
“It was really nice to hear those old Motown songs,” said Bell’s mother, Ladoris Taylor, adding the program brought back memories of music her mother used to play. “Motown – that’s where a lot of black stars made it.”
One of those stars was Michael Jackson, who got his start with the Jackson 5. The students performed “ABC” by the Jackson Five.
“It makes me happy, because it’s funny a little bit,” said Unique Collins.
Another student, Tylie Gunter, said he is a fan of Michael Jackson, and loves the dance moves to the 1980’s song “Thriller.”
Katie Schultz, music teacher at Stocks, said learning about the Jackson 5 gave the children an opportunity to see Michael Jackson and his music “in a different light.” Schultz said she and her students discussed the fact that before the Motown era, there “weren’t a lot of African-American artists.”
“These were some of the first artists that made it big and made it so other African-American artists could follow behind them. They paved the way,” Schultz said.
A special performance of the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the second-grade boys, a rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and later by Supremes frontrunner Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” rounded out Monday’s program.
Second grade teacher Connie Crowe called the show a “celebration of love and African-American culture.”
“All of our songs are dedicated to our parents and we want to show them our love by singing and enjoying music from a group of African-Americans who made great contributions to our culture,” Crowe said.
During the month of February, Beckstead said the second graders have been learning about the contributions of African-Americans throughout history – Harriet Tubman’s transport of slaves through the Underground Railroad and Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South, in an attempt to integrate the school system.
Bell said she liked learning about the famous jazz singer and dancer, Lena Horne.
“She helped people, doing charity,” said Bell.
Taylor said she believes learning about music and the positive contributions made by African-American musicians is beneficial to her daughter and the other students.
“It can inspire them to help others in different ways and put others first,” Taylor said.
“History is very important,” she added.