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Boonsboro student teaches lessons in black achievement

February 09, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

BOONSBORO - When Kelechi Urama moved to Boonsboro from Silver Spring, Md., she was disappointed to discover that her new high school didn't do much to recognize February as Black History month.

"Even though there's not a lot of African-American students, it's something that should still be recognized," she said.

Kelechi, 15, started collecting information about black achievers, and last February some of the information she collected was read to students each morning.

She's collecting information again this month to celebrate black history. Kelechi said she tried to find out about influential African-Americans that most people don't already know about.

Garrett Augustus Morgan, the man who invented the traffic signal, was an African-American, she said.

Kelechi loves studying African-American history, she said.

"It's like a story about a race of people held in captivity so long and finally about to go out and do big things," she said. "They rose up above where everybody expected them to."

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Her personal hero is Melba Pattillo, part of the "Little Rock Nine" who were chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957.

"People hated her for no other reason than her skin color," Kelechi said.

She said she read Pattillo's autobiography and felt she could relate to her.

"It related to things that went on when I moved up here," she said.

Kelechi also admires Oprah Winfrey "because of everything she's done for everybody," she said.

Kelechi's classmates think her February celebration is "cool," she said.

Her work is interesting, and also important, she said.

In the United States history class Kelechi took, students learned a little about black history, but not much, she said.

"If everybody doesn't know about it, then it'll be easy for them to fall back and repeat history," Kelechi said.

Her favorite classes are English and government, because she likes to read and learn how government works, she said.

She is considering studying law because, "I would like to give somebody justice," she said.

"And she likes to argue," said her father, Pious Urama.

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