Cooper Teen Center defends title with strong challenge from Euell Wilson Center
Frost Illustrated Staff Report
FORT WAYNE—Reverence, community pride and knowledge were all on display last week as some of the area’s most talented young people put their knowledge of history on display in a friendly but serious academic competition.
On Feb. 21, teams of young people from Weisser Park Community Center, the Jennings Center, Sister To Sister, Boys & Girls Club, the Euell Wilson Center, the Fort Wayne Urban League, Greater Progressive Family Life Center and Cooper Teen Center gathered for the 2013 City of Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Neighborhood Programs’ Black History Bowl at the Jennings Center, 1330 McCulloch St. Young participants tested their knowledge and shared their love of black history with elders and other young people. Contestants answered questions in a variety of categories including politics, sports, science, business civil rights and others, emphasizing landmark decisions and people in black history.
“We’ve been doing this for five years,” explained Michael Ayers, supervisor of neighborhood programs for the City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department.
Ayers said the department sponsors the competition—which started five years prior to that as just a teaching activity at individual sites—for two important reason.
“First of all, it’s for our community to get together and be a part of each other but the most important reason is for our black children to learn their heritage,” he said.
The Black History Bowl isn’t just a one-day affair. Ayers said for nearly two months, adults have been getting the young people ready for the competition first by handing out packets with information on all the figures and events on which questions are based two months prior to the affair. While adults help, he said the young people show a lot of initiative engaging in intense individual study on their own.
“The children themselves are more involved by taking their packets and learning themselves. We just help guide them and make sure they understand what they’re reading,” he said.
Ayers also said support from the community also is important.
“I’d like to thank the elders from the community for participating—Chief Condra Ridley, Sheila Campbell-Curry, Christina Wolfe and Michael Patterson,” said Ayers.
Chief Ridley served as moderator while Campbell-Curry and Patterson served as judges and Wolfe as official timekeeper.
A capacity crowd of more than 200 people crammed into the Jennings Center to watch the teams of six youth each, with two alternates, compete for the title this year.
The 2013 Black History Bowl winners top three winners were:
• First place—The Cooper Teen Center
• Second place—The Euell Wilson Center
• Third place—Weisser Park Community Center
Cooper, the defending champs from last year, turned in a perfect score (120 points this year) in their victory for three years in a row. The team from the Euell Wilson Center missed only one question and followed closely with a score of 114 points. The Euell Wilson Center only missed one question last year. Weisser Park remained close in this year’s competition with 84 points.
The top three were followed by the Jennings Center, Sister to Sister, the Boys & Girls Club, the Fort Wayne Urban League and the Greater Progressive Learning Life Center.
Teams were awarded five points for each correct answer during the competition but had one point deducted for incorrect answers or failing to answer within the allotted 15 second response period.
While he said the winning teams deserved their accolades, Ayers said even more importantly, he wants to make sure all young people in the community know black history and how important black history is to the overall history of the nation and the world.
Ayers said he was thrilled with the success of the event is ready to expand it.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I’m ready to take this to another level. It’s important to our community and all our community centers. I want them all to come in—it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or any color. We want them all to be a part of this. I want it to be huge, for all of our community.