Tamika Burton has dressed up as Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Coleman, and Joe Louis, among other African-American trailblazers.
Each February, Tamika Burton, a Spanish teacher at Pennsylvania’s Collegium Charter School in Exton, Chester County, goes above and beyond to honor African-American trailblazers. According to CBS News, Burton dresses in elaborate costumes, portraying pioneering women and men, to inspire her students. She quizzes them to guess each identity, making history come alive in her classroom.
Collegium Charter School provides K-12 education.
“I have been dressing up as a different person during Black History Month for the past three years,” Burton explained of the now-beloved tradition.
The educator has turned Black History Month into a school-wide event. She even passes out treats to students and staff who guess the historical figures correctly.
She prioritizes lesser-known change-makers rather than repeatedly discussing the more popular civil rights leaders. “It’s so easy to do MLK, maybe Malcolm X and Rosa Parks,” Burton acknowledged. “I can do people that they really don’t know.” The teacher has already made appearances at Collegium Charter School as aviator Bessie Coleman and boxer Joe Louis.
“She would come in with the weirdest outfits,” said student Aniyah White. “It highlights a way for us…like, ‘Oh I can do that too.’”
Burton’s costumes make history active by portraying past and present Black contributions as living legacies. She noted: “The main takeaway is the same as it’s been for years – that Black history is American history and it should be discussed as often any history is taught.” The Spanish teacher believes “it shouldn’t be relegated to just a class on African-American history. It should be interwoven between all courses.”
Rather than confining the teaching to “one month” or a single designated course, her vibrant outfits advocate for recognizing diverse narratives of African American heroes and pioneers across subjects and time.
RELATED CONTENT: Florida Parents Mandated To Sign Permission Slip For Students To Celebrate Black History Month
Source: Black Enterprise