The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance to Contemporary Times

Marcus Nicks

Marcus Nicks serves as the achievement liaison for the Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) at Patuxent Valley Middle School. He is the program director and founder of the school’s Students of Success leadership group as well as a co-teacher for Patuxent Valley‘s African-American History Seminar. Here Nicks writes about his school’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship during Black History Month this year.

Black entrepreneurship has always been the spirit of the African-American experience especially during the legendary time period of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s to the 1940s. The work ethic and determination through cultural expression and social change during this time period in American history serves as a model of extraordinary inspiration. At Patuxent Valley Middle School, we expose students to entrepreneurship opportunities and engage them in conversations on what makes entrepreneurship powerful. For Black History Month this year, our school will provide month-long experiences encouraging entrepreneurship while making the historical connection to the Harlem Renaissance time period.

The month of February will begin with a Black History Month kick-start celebration for students during their lunchtime. Students will be able to enjoy the smooth melodic music of the Harlem Renaissance while viewing a slideshow of influential African-American entrepreneurial pioneers. Over the course of the month, our students will start each day learning about significant achievements of African Americans in our “Who Am I” morning news segment. Parents can get involved by showing their appreciation for the staff by serving food at our Soul Food potluck feast during lunchtime.

When it comes to entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit, Howard County has much to offer its students. This will be the central focus of our Patuxent Valley Middle School Community-wide Black History Celebration, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, Feb. 24, from 6-8 p.m. This event will conclude the school’s Black History Month festivities. This will be an evening with a packed itinerary including student performances that pay tribute to the Harlem Renaissance, and a fashion show with local fashion designers and modeling agencies. There will be a gallery with local, black-owned businesses where people can network and make purchases. Author, speaker, educator and historian Dr. Deborah Newman Ham will serve as a featured speaker for the night, and we will conclude the celebration with a panel of prominent entrepreneurs from Howard County discussing the importance of entrepreneurship in contemporary times.

As a representative of BSAP, I take pride in being able to use my role here at Patuxent Valley Middle School as a platform to lead the way in representing the African-American experience in an uplifting and empowering way. All people regardless of race, ethnicity or color have been impacted and influenced by the illustrious accomplishments that African Americans have made through their undying entrepreneurial spirit. Awareness of the victories obtained throughout the African-American historical journey can instill pride, confidence and help to foster racial sensitivity. I appreciate the opportunity to work with school principal Rick Robb and African-American History Seminar co-teacher Monica Bickerton, along with the rest of our staff, because we all share the vision of embracing the rich history of African Americans of the past to give our students inspiration for the future.

Nicks’ guest blog is part of HCPSS’ participation in celebrating Black History Month, this February.