The faculty and staff at R.B. Cox Elementary celebrates diversity throughout the school year.
“Our population of the community we serve here is very diverse,” Principal Kimberly Natal said. “Most of our students are Hispanic and African American, so it’s important to the community and it’s important to celebrate that diversity we have here at R.B. Cox and our community we serve.
“So, through committees, we plan this every year — we have a Hispanic Heritage and Black History celebration every year.”
The school held a Black Heritage Celebration on March 3, complete with educational and entertaining performances, readings and presentations.
It ended with a traditional soul food dinner.
“We celebrate diversity a lot at this school,” said secretary Monica Russ, who heads up the Black History Month Committee at the school. “At R.B. Cox, this is one of the times we do that, where we invite everyone out to come join and celebrate and learn about Black history and diversity.
“And everyone is welcome.”
Faces in the crowd proved that people of all races came together for the celebration — a fact that pleased the R.B. Cox event organizers.
“We have Black families, Hispanic families, even some white families and part of our police department is here, too,” Russ said. “Anyone that just wants to come out and be a part of us and part of this community — and we’re very pleased with how it turned out. Whenever you can get parents in the doors with kids and they learn something, come together as a community and enjoy time together, we’ll take it.
“The free soul food was a great draw, too,” she said, with a laugh.
The Rosewood Traveling Museum was a new highlight this year.
The museum, and its foundation, is dedicated to remembering the town of Rosewood, which, in January 1923, underwent a racially motivated massacre of Black people and the destruction of the Black town in Levy County, Florida.
At least six Black people were killed, but eyewitness accounts suggested a death toll of 27 to 150.
The museum had about 10% of its collection on display, but the exhibit will be available to see at Pioneer Florida Museum & Village starting on Juneteenth (June 19).
Representatives from the Rosewood Family were on hand at R.B. Cox to tell about the museum and its causes and share some history of the massacre. Its choir also performed.
“I’m connected to the (Rosewood) group through marriage,” Russ said. “It touched my family, so that’s what I think about when I think about Black History. … (Rosewood) is honoring 100 years, so (when) given the opportunity for them to come and share it with us, I jumped at it.
“Because I think it’s a great way to let people know who aren’t aware of that history, and we want to share our history,” she said.
Natal said she was pleased with the turnout, and the message for honoring “Bridge Builders, Obstacle Movers, World Changers” at the celebration. She also said the Black Heritage event, and the Hispanic Heritage one the school held in the fall, were the first ones held, post-COVID restrictions.
She said it was uplifting to see the enthusiasm for the event’s return — from both staff and students.
“This year, we wanted to do it big since we hadn’t done it in a while,” Natal said. “It was a real grassroots effort from the staff to really bring in the community and celebrate the culture, and I think we’ll see even more people next time,” she said.
It’s important, the principal said, “for the kids to celebrate their heritages.”
Remember Rosewood – Centennial: 100 Years of History
Where: Pioneer Florida Museum & Village, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City
When: Starting June 19
Details: The Rosewood Traveling Museum will be on display at Pioneer Village starting the week of Juneteenth (June 19), at no charge.
The Rosewood Museum is dedicated to remembering the town of Rosewood, which, in January 1923, underwent a racially motivated massacre of black people and the destruction of the black town in Levy County, Florida. At least six black people were killed, but eyewitness accounts have suggested a death toll of 27 to 150.
Info: Visit RememberingRosewood.com or PioneerFloridaMuseum.org.
Published March 15, 2023