When Kai Goodall personifies the District's House of Representative Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's character, she uses a routine to prepare herself.
"I think of all the things I think are unfair," said Kai, 11, a fifth grader at Basis D.C. Public Charter School in Northwest. "I'm thinking in my head that slavery was wrong, so I get angry when I think about it, and I know she's angry about taxation without representation so I put all my energy into my part."
To understand Norton's fight as the District struggles for equal representation in the U.S. Congress, Kai researches and learns Norton's words, in addition to homework and other activities.
Kai is one of more than 50 youth between the ages of 6 and 17 who will take part in the seventh Annual Blacks in Wax program at one of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation facilities – specifically, the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC) on Friday, March 15, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest on Saturday, March 23.
The young performers, who attend SETLC's after-school programs, will astound audiences as they transform from posed replicas into lively representations of some of the most notable African Americans in this nation's history. This year, the Washington Performing Arts Society's Children of the Gospel Choir will perform with the tennis scholars.
"She's amazing," said Carmela Goodall, Kai's mother, after her performance on March 8 at the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest during a kickoff for the upcoming event. "She's been playing at the tennis center for six years and she's a straight A student and an excellent tennis player."