Stories unite past, present

By Greg Gelpi

A story, a story. Let it fly, let it come, chanted elementary school children. Students at Mount Zion Elementary called upon an African storyteller to not only learn black history, but experience black history.

Donna Buie, a teacher from Fulton County, engaged students at Mount Zion with an animated story, drawing the children into the narrative with dancing, acting and chanting.

Sitting with their reading buddies, students feverishly yelled their responses to Buie, rising to their knees, captivated by the story she wove.

"Once upon a time, people didn't write everything down," she said. "Once upon a time, they didn't type everything into a computer. They just told everybody."

The students were taking part in Black History Month, but Buie wanted them to experience black history as well. A large part of black history are stories and storytelling, she said. Huie said she is an African-American, but she lives, and spends most of her time in America. The stories passed to her, which she passes on to her children are what forms the bond between Africa and America and forms the basis for black history.

"We can still learn from our ancestors," Buie said, explaining that black history and lessons are passed down through storytelling.

Motioning with her cow tail switch, she directed the children in acting out the stories she recited. Buie told of a weaver who wove webs, an "African spider man," who overcame great feats to bring stories to the world.

Beating out the words like a drum like storytellers of old, Buie stirred up excitement in the children who repeated her words and actions, learning both the story of black history as well as how storytelling passed on black history.

Through the story she presented, the storyteller said African ancestors taught today's listeners never to give up, never to let life's challenges hinder them.

And with the story passed on to a new generation, the story will live and carry on the African storytelling tradition.