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Opelousas educator teaches black history with "Shabooya roll call" chant

Posted at 8:52 AM, Feb 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-28 09:53:33-05

"Shabooya roll call" is an African American-originated call-and-respond bragging and taunting chant with a distinctive structure and rhythm. The chant is supposed to begin with "Shabooya Sha-Sha Shabooya roll call" and end with the words "Shabooya roll call".

The original rhythm of the song dates back to the "Purple rain" artist Prince in 1992 from the tune "My name is Prince". While the version we know today began in 1996 with "Shabooya roll call-Get on the bus."

As the tune is increasingly getting more traction with a new hit…Anamechia Joseph, a teacher at Northeast Elementary in Opelousas is using it as a tool for her student to learn black history.

Even her students were shocked to learn their teacher would pull a song they were familiar with and tie it into their learning experience.

“When I heard that song, I didn’t think that it was going to be something that was into school because Tik Tok is not something that you do when you learn something but Ms. Joseph she will do something like that,” Student of the year Jon Belton said.

In only two years she says the key to connecting with her students—comes down to meeting them where they are.

“A lot of times whenever they come to school this is their safe place for most of them...this is the place where they come and can express themselves,” Joseph said. “A lot of these songs they know them, like they wrote them,” she added.

As a former Pre-k teacher in Houston, Texas she says implementing rhymes into the song was second nature.

“The song was a little longer because I was trying to add other people into it but as I just started putting the pieces together it just came about,” Joseph said.

The song features historical figures like Barack Obama, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Muhammad Ali among other black historical figures.

“It has my favorite black history man/Martin Luther king in it...and he’s a great civil rights leader and deserves support,” Belton said.

“I hope that our students are able to retain the historical information about the people so that they’re able to tell others and tell the younger kids coming up after them about these people,” Joseph said.

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