WASHINGTON – Study habits that have led him to straight A’s and perfect attendance may have helped Kelvin Brown win the 12th Annual African American History Bee.
But being a sports fan didn’t hurt either.
Kelvin, a sixth grader at Langdon Elementary School in Northeast, won the history bee Tuesday when he answered correctly that the first African American in modern times to coach a National Football League team is Art Shell.
Kelvin was one of 17 elementary school students participating in the event sponsored by Concerned Black Men Inc., a nonprofit organization of professional men that works with black youth to help them achieve their potential.
John Wilson, a consultant and president of the group, said the competition is designed to give students a sense of history and to teach them the benefits of hard work and perseverance.
Organizers said the competition itself is secondary, with more emphasis placed on enhancing pride and self-esteem.
“There are no winners and there are no losers,” Wilson said.
He said knowing history can help later in life. “There are so many things going on around them. If they have an understanding of their history they know how to respond to different situations,” Wilson said.
Each of the 17 participating schools from the District and Prince George’s County selected a contestant and an alternate.
Before the contest, each student received a study guide of more than 50 pages with the questions and answers. The questions were divided into eight subject matters, including one for law, politics and civil rights; and others for sports and entertainment; business; military; and science, inventions and medicine.
The first round of Tuesday’s competition at the Charles Sumner Museum and Archives was a practice round.
After that, every student who answered a question wrong was eliminated.
Kelvin lit up when the final question turned out to be sports related. He said afterward he wants to be a basketball player when he grows up.
He said the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is his role model.
“He changed the world by not letting the world be simple minded, by trying to make the world a peaceful place,” Kelvin said.
He said he doesn’t have much time to rest on his laurels. He has a spelling bee at his school on Friday.
The top three finishers won jackets, T-shirts and cash. Kelvin, the winner, won $100. Second-place finisher Tyree Manley of Moten Elementary School won $75; third-place finisher Deneria Audrey of Nalle Elementary School won $50.
All participants received certificates, along with the intangibles considered so important by the organizers.
Rhonda Ransom, a fourth grader from Walker-Jones Elementary School in Northwest, was thinking just before the contest of her grandmother, who died in January.
“I want to do this for everybody in my family who couldn’t see this … that I achieved this and I wasn’t afraid,” she said.
Rhonda said her family has told her she could do anything she put her mind to.
“I worked very hard for this,” she said. “I studied for three hours a day.”
She said her school chose her partly because “I was the only one that didn’t go to recess to study for this.”
Rhonda said her grandmother’s death convinced her to be less afraid of such things as speaking in front of a crowd. “I was a scaredy-cat,” she said. Her uncle, Derone Gardner, said the history bee “gave her the strength to go on.” -30-