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Children compete in Black History Month art contest, painting influential Black icons

Finalists chosen by the Boys and Girls Clubs and UScellular leaders will have their artwork displayed in stores during Black History Month.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Students gathered in the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley on Thursday with paintbrushes in hand and history on their minds.

They were competing in an art contest to see who could best paint some of the most influential Black icons in history. It was a way to celebrate Black History Month before it officially starts on Feb. 1, giving children a chance to think about the people who helped shape the world they live in.

Winners of the competition will be chosen in late January by representatives from the Boys & Girls Clubs and representatives from UScellular, who are partners in the project. They will be chosen based on creativity, quality, interpretation, clarity and overall impression.

The winning artwork will be digitally displayed in some stores all throughout Black History Month. People over 18 years old will also be able to vote for their favorite artwork online.

Artists who get first, second and third place in voes will also get cash prizes.

Organizers said the artwork should focus on Black leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, creators can also paint Black historical figures, world leaders, scientists and educators.

"The great life skills that you learn through the arts — critical thinking, problem-solving, working through the hard stuff, collaboration, communication — all those things that are essential to be successful in life, you can learn through great arts programming," said Bart McFadden, the president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

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