Students at Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools hone their music skills. (Photo by: chicagocrusader.com)

By The Chicago Crusader

Betty Shabazz Academy (BSA), a campus of Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools, hosted the taping of “Creating History,” a Black History Month special from WCIU-TV “The U.” The 30-minute special featured six local community activists who are working to create meaningful change. It premiered on WCIU-TV at the start of February. The final encore broadcast on The U was February 24. The special was hosted by Jordan Cornette and Felicia Lawrence. Among those showcased was BSA guest instructor Illi D. Williams, a native Chicago rapper.

Shabazz Academy music teacher Mpatanishi “Mama Amyna” Pearson-Cobb says Williams has been working on a special music project with the eighth-grade students for the past year. “We wanted to expose our upper grade level students to the concept of creating their own songs,” says Pearson-Cobb.

The students chose a music genre and was grouped into teams. Each team wrote a song. Three teams then were selected to go into the studio to record their songs. From this, one team was chosen to also produce a music video, which will be shown at the eighth-grade luncheon. They hope to have the songs recorded by the end of March.

The collaboration is a result of Pearson-Cobb being introduced to Williams last year. She says the artist expressed an interest in helping students in her music class. They decided working on the song-writing project with eighth-grade students would be the right approach. Last year, Williams worked with the students one day each week. Now and for the next five weeks, he’ll be a guest instructor two to three days each week.

Known for being culturally rooted in academic excellence for next generation leadership, Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools focuses on providing an academically rigorous and culturally relevant educational program that produces graduates who are making their mark on the world. Betty Shabazz Academy 2018 graduate Dara Bolden scored a perfect 300 on the Chicago Public Schools selective enrollment test that earned her a coveted spot at Whitney Young Magnet High School. Among several other BSICS graduates are Solomon Dumas, lead dancer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and interdisciplinary artist Shani Crowe who received critical acclaim for her photographic exhibition “BRAIDS,” which was on display at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in New York and whom recording artist Solange Knowles commissioned to perform her braiding artistry for an appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”

Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools is accepting new students for the 2019-20 school year. BSICS offers students a safe, nurturing holistic learning environment where they are stimulated academically and experience a curriculum inclusive of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, music), robotics club, dance, physical education, and are served chef-prepared vegetarian meals daily. Since its inception, BSICS has consistently produced exemplary, high-achieving students who have a strong sense of cultural identity and a commitment to make positive contributions to the community and the world. For more information, visit www.bsics.org or call 773-651-2426.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader. 

Betty Shabazz Academy featured in WCIU’s Black History Month special

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