Children’s Classes Celebrating Black History

The banner says "Black History Month in white against a brown background, with repeating patterns of lines, ovals, circles, and triangles bordering it above and below in a traditional African color palette of red, green, and gold.
Image by Freepik.

By Sylvia H.

For Black History Month, HCLS Miller Branch is collaborating with two local organizations, the African Art Museum of Maryland and Howard County Center of African American Culture, to bring the history and accomplishments of Black Americans to some of our youngest customers.

The museum logo says "African Art Museum of Maryland, Founded 1980," in an oval which surrounds a line drawing of a figurine.

The African Art Museum of Maryland (AAMM) presents their African Experience Tour, an interactive program incorporating hands-on art exploration, videos, and rich discussion. Mrs. Doris Ligon, director and co-founder of the museum, facilitates the event for children ages 8 – 11 on Wednesday, February 15.

AAMM was founded in 1980 as the first museum in Columbia, MD. It is one of only three museums of its kind in the United States devoted exclusively to the art of Africa, as well as the only one founded by an African American. With more than 40 years in operation, the museum has shared stunning pieces created by distinguished artists with the local community and beyond; many of the artists are internationally known. Visit to learn more about the museum.

The image shows three profiles in shades of black, grey, and white, against an open book as a background. The title "Howard County Center of African American Culture, Inc." and a date, "Established 1987," surround the logo in a circle.

Marcus ‘Sankofa’ Nicks, curator of the Howard County Center of African American Culture (HCCAAC), continues his work with us through a new educational program, Sankofa Children’s Academy. Two sessions about Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the creation of Black History Month through interactive discussion and hands-on activities are happening on Saturday, February 18: for ages 3 – 5 with adult and for ages 6 – 8.

Sankofa Children’s Academy, a new educational program, supports the holistic development of children socially, emotionally, intellectually, and culturally. Youth participants can learn in a multitude of ways to enhance confidence, self-esteem, and social skills.

Founded in 1987, HCCAAC works to preserve and share African American history and culture within Howard County. The museum exhibits a unique collection of artifacts, vintage clothing and materials, along with events that tell the story of African Americans within our community. Visit to learn more about the organization and its work.

African Experience Tour

Wednesday, Feb 15 4:30 pm & 7 pm, HCLS Miller Branch, Ages 8 – 11.
Tickets will be available at the children’s desk 15 minutes before class begins.

Sankofa Children’s Academy

Saturday, Feb 18 11 am HCLS Miller Branch, Ages 3 – 5 with adult; 12:30 pm, Ages 6 – 8.
Tickets will be available at the children’s desk 15 minutes before class begins.

Sessions continue at Miller Branch throughout the spring.

Saturday, March 18 11 am & 12:30 pm

Saturday, April 15 11 am & 12:30 pm

Saturday, May 13 11 am & 12:30 pm

We hope you are able to explore both the African Art Museum of Maryland and Howard County Center of African American Culture, as well as learn about other local points of knowledge!

Sylvia is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys crafting, listening to audiobooks, naps, and walks with her dogs in 75 degree-ish weather.

Local History with Marcus Nicks

Marcus Nicks, dressed in a grey suit and striped tie, stands out

Marcus Sankofa Nicks is an educator, researcher, and historian of African American History. He regularly facilitates conversations surrounding the African American historical experience, the topic of race, and its present-day implications. He has served in the Howard County Public School System for more than 12 years, primarily supporting Black/African American students through a culturally relevant, trauma-informed approach. Since then, he has established History Heals Consulting, LLC, which uses African American history as a vehicle to aid schools, institutions, and businesses in fostering healthy and inclusive environments.

Nicks offers a multi-session course that takes a comprehensive and expansive look at the history of African Americans in Howard County. It covers the influences and contributions of African Americans from the earliest beginnings of Howard County up to the contemporary era. He provides historical accounts and a wide range of perspectives on the diverse experiences of African Americans.

The Establishment of Columbia, The Rouse Dream, and Its Impact on African Americans

Monday, Dec 12 at 6:30 – 8:30 pm Central Branch
Register at

Upcoming sessions in 2023:
January 9: Influential African American Trailblazers & Pioneers in Howard County

February 13: Finding New Meaning and Perspective Through the Lens of History

From an interview with Marcus Nicks:

What was your first job?
After graduating from Bowie State, an Historically Black University, I became a substitute teacher. I taught in Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties, and the educational landscape of these school systems helped give me a broad sense of how to engage students of various ages, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. After a year, I decided to return home to the Howard County Public School System as a full time educator.

What is a book you’ve read that changed how you think about a topic or your life?
A book that significantly shaped how I think about life and see the world was The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley. I remember there being so many mixed depictions about Malcolm X, so I decided to read the book for myself. I read it as a college student and remember it being more intriguing to me than any textbook. I found a lot of resonance to my life as a young adult. The book had many themes that provoked me into thinking more broadly on topics such as coming of age, trauma, racism, colorism, mental health, family dynamics, the incarceration system, Black Nationalism, peer relationships, Black history, and leadership. I found Malcolm’s X’s evolution inspiring and believe that we share similar qualities, such as the intent to educate and be studious, a work ethic, being a researcher, and using words and speech to analyze society critically.

What inspires/motivates you?
My family inspires and motivates me every day, since I know that what I do builds off a generational legacy. My parents always encouraged me to pursue education. My wife and life partner has always fully supported me along my journey.
I am deeply inspired by my daughter, who pushes me to be the best version of myself possible as a father. She continues to give me a reason to leave behind a legacy for her to be proud of.

I am further inspired each day through the lessons of history and the stories of those who rose above adversity amidst seemingly insurmountable odds. Lastly, I am inspired and motivated by anyone who is passionate about their craft.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’m generally content with a quiet space to read and study (haha), but I would love to visit the continent of Africa. Africa has given so much to the world. I would love to visit the place where scientists have said human life first began. I would also love to experience the culture of various countries throughout the continent. Africa has been such an integral aspect of my studies, and I believe traveling there directly would have such a profound impact on me and my family that it couldn’t be put into words.