'Everything has a meaning:' MPS students celebrate Black History Month by going back to their roots

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools students are celebrating Black History Month by going back to their roots, way back. The students have a unique performance that combines dance, drums, and history.

It's the moment these young women have been waiting for -- when hard work and history lessons pay off.

Their time to shine under the bright lights and spotlight of African-American culture and heritage.

"Everything has a meaning," said Yaya Kambaye, Founder of Xalaar African Drum and Dance.

Yaya Kambaye is the man behind the music. The founder of Xalaar African Drum and Dance, has partnered with the Milwaukee Public Schools to teach students African art -- and the history behind every move and drum beat.

"Generally, kids don't have a lot of information about African culture beyond the Civil War. We are here to say you have a history that goes back to Africa," said Roxanne Kess, Exec. Artistic Director.

Only a handful of students who audition make the group. They commit to practice throughout the school year and summer.

"Doing this type of dance, we need to know where it came from, and the history behind it," said Courtney Gillispie, Junior.

Each routine and rhythm represents a moment in history. Like the blending of Africa into African-American culture.

"It's nice to go back to where it all started and tie it into today's culture," said Faith McCormack, Dancer & Mentor.

A lesson these performers were moved to share during Black History Month.

"We just want people to know what we are doing here," said Kambaye.

Their moment to showcase their past -- and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

Yala also teaches dance to the community at Milwaukee's Pink House Studio.