African American Music History Essays Contest

Victor Ramirez, a junior at the School for Advanced Studies, placed first in a 2018 Black History Essay Contest, hosted by Miami-Dade County Public School’s Department of Social Sciences and United Teachers of Dade.

Victor was required to research the unique experience of African Americans during the time of war and write an essay explaining the important role that African Americans had at that time. As the winner, he received $200 and was invited to the Thirlee Smith First Annual Black History Brain Bowl, which took place last week at the Lyric Theater.

Monsignor Edward Pace High School

Twelve seniors from Monsignor Edward Pace High School received acceptance letters to the University of Florida, in Gainesville, beginning this fall.

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Eudens and Tajmara Anotines, Myriam Dominique, Sharon Flores, Aleisha Fleurantine, Grace Li, Keanu Orfano, Alexander Pereda, Mikeiveka Sanon, Matthew Schaffer, Joshua Toledo, and Nickolas Valdes are the newly accepted Florida Gators, and they are members of honor societies, their campus ministry and extracurricular activities.

The University of Florida is one of the school’s that Pace High students visited during the school’s annual Florida College tour last fall.

Ransom Everglades School

Middle school students from Ransom Everglades School placed first in all three levels of the National History Bee Regional Competition, held at Pine Middle School last week.

Daniel Figueroa, Jonathan Pollack, and Javi Kumar won the sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade titles, consecutively. In addition to these students, Lucas Blanco, Liam Forand, Erick Gross, Ian Barnett, Leo Fein, Kyler Pace, Liv Steinhardt, Stefan Baker, Tommy Fisher, Zach Marcus and Alex Van Lidth also competed and advanced to the national championship in Atlanta.

Bike, Run, Walk Family Event

Miami-Dade County School Board member Larry Feldman will host his eighth annual Bike, Run, Walk Family Event, in partnership with the village of Pinecrest, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Pinecrest Community Center, 5855 Killian Dr., in Pinecrest.

Feldman created the event to encourage students and their families to lead active and healthy lifestyles. There will be an on-site resource fair featuring helmet fittings, giveaways, free tune-ups, safety workshops and food trucks.

For information, call 305-284-0900.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Adrianne Richardson at

Fourteen middle school students from Ransom Everglades School competed in the National History Bee Regional Competition and advanced to the national championship in Atlanta. Javi Kumar, pictured, won the eighth-grade title.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School’s boys and girls tennis teams recently defeated Miami Central High School’s teams by winning seven matches: five singles and two doubles. The Alonzo Mourning team is pictured with their head coach, Todd Rubinstein. The 7-0 sweep helped Rubinstein reach his 400th career high school victory as a head tennis coach.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Although the African elements of African American musical culture remain strong, the music of African Americans is a hybrid of the musical traditions of Africa, Europe, and Native American cultures, along with other influences from around the world. This process, which began in the 17th century with the arrival of the first enslaved Africans at Jamestown, continues into the present as black musicians continue to draw on diverse influences to create new sounds. It is this hybridity that makes African American music a distinctly American phenomenon. A nineteenth century banjo in the NMAAHC’s Slavery and Freedom exhibition is a vivid example of the fusion of African and European musical traditions that African Americans created in America.

The banjo was one of the most important instruments in early African American music, and though seldom associated with African Americans in contemporary popular culture, it is a classic example of the way that African Americans blended African and European musical traditions together in the United States. The earliest banjos were likely based on West African lutes. Over the course of centuries, banjo makers gradually adapted their instruments to conform to European tuning systems, resulting in a truly American instrument that incorporated Western music theory even as its design recalled its African models.

Jazz is another iconic example of African American musical hybridity that occupies a central position in the Musical Crossroads gallery. In the late 19th century, African American musicians combined popular songs and marches with African American folk forms like ragtime, sacred music, and the blues to create a new form of heavily syncopated and improvisatory music. Jazz, as the music came to be called, today occupies such a central place in America’s cultural heritage that many fans and scholars call it “America’s classical music.” The Musical Crossroads gallery tells the stories of jazz musicians through their music and through objects such as a suit jacket designed for jazz innovator and fashion icon Miles Davis.

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