In celebrating Black History Month, Conway High School-East hosted a group, Choosing to Excel, to present a program during each period for students on Thursday.
Choosing to Excel is a group promoting unity that was started in 1991 by Thelma Moton. Moton said since its beginning, several other similar groups have formed in the state. The group, comprised of students from various campuses in Conway, led students in unifying activities and icebreakers.

Moton said what she hopes the students take away from the presentation is a feeling they have more in common than originally thought.

“We are going to focus on music as our unifier this year. And music is what identifies us,” Moton said. “And our goal is to point to the past, and tell young people to choose their own history.”

DiAnka Moton, a junior at the University of Central Arkansas, led a rally for students with group music and dance.

Associate Dean of Student Life at UCA Wendy Holbrook spoke about history and unity. Her co-host, Justin Washburn, a senior at Conway High School-West, entertained the audience with dance moves.

This year’s theme was “Right here, right now, we can be strong together.”
The presentation used music as a way to unify students. A banner that read “Music, the great unifier,” was displayed behind the group as they presented their step dance.

“Music is something we have in common,” Holbrook said. “In music we are all together, in that moment.”

Holbrook spoke about music styles blending together, and about the dance of step transcending all cultures through history, including groups from the Irish to tribal peoples.

Holbrook led the history presentation by showing photos of examples of segregation in the educational system from years past. 

“Separation and segregation, is our history. We all took part in that,” Holbrook said. “But unity is our future.”

Holbrook said black history is not just for African Americans, but everyone’s history.
“We have bigger battles to face now,” Holbrook said. “Hunger, homelesness, tragedy, disaster, terrorism, and poverty. There’s still sickness and people in need. Together we can make a change.”

The presentation closed on a call for students to make a change for the benefit of history to come, and a quote from Margaret Mead that read, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at