Black History Month: Omega Dr. Carter G. Woodson Academy
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local chapter of a national fraternity — that was motivated by the challenges facing many black children — has created a useful program.
It’s a 10-week academy, designed to prepare those children to be creative, thoughtful and economically sound adults.
“We do an opening ritual in the morning,” said Chairman Justin Laing. “We start with lift every voice and sing and then we have a step and then we have a song, the song goes, ‘Dr. Carter G. Woodson, whoo, oh, here is a man…’ you know and it goes on like that and it’s all of the kids singing and doing stuff together and then we break up into groups.”
The Omega Dr. Carter G. Woodson Academy held at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty was created by the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
“We like to put more attention in our community amongst our children that we’re a very important people,” said Laing. “We’ve done important things that are worth being recognized and talked about and we need to have more value for ourselves and our culture. And that’s, and that’s one of the reasons that we formed the academy.”
Laing is also one of the teachers who believes the program provides something not given in school.
“The academy is all about giving children hands-on, fun, learning experiences in art, science and history and that support their identity as being African-American and being intellect,” he said.
And many parents, some of whom are also sponsors of the academy, agree.
“I’m a father who has a child in this academy and it’s just a testament to how strongly I feel and believe that we need to support these types of endeavors,” one parent said.
The academy divides children from first to 12th grade into selections of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math or history and art.
“I think that this is a great thing that the Omega Psi Phi is doing during Black History Month to teach the African-American community and any community that wants to participate about the African-American culture,” said Roland J. Criswell, of Cotton Funeral Home and a parent at the academy.
The academy is taught by African-American men who are also members of the fraternity.
“We’re doing what we think is important to do, but I think in doing that, it is fighting against that stereotype,” Laing said.
The fraternity hopes with the academy, it’s able to fight other stereotypes.
“I think what we would really like to have kids be proud of is that to be black, to be African-American, to be of African descendant is to be interested in intellectual achievement and to think that it’s fun,” Laing said.