3 Charlotteans made history

Three prominent Charlotteans visited First Ward Elementary on Friday as part of a national day of service in the African-American community.

Former ballerina Ayisha McMillan Cravotta, bank executive and Obama administration education adviser Lenny Springs and journalist Mary C. Curtis shared their life stories and encouraged students to value education. Their visit was coordinated by The HistoryMakers, a nonprofit oral history project. Across the country, 400 leaders in the black community visited 200 schools.

Amanda Smith dances into history

Amanda Smith, 22, always knew that she loved to dance — to music, to TV shows, in grocery stores, everywhere — when she was a young girl growing up in Orange County, Calif. When she was 12, she got serious. That’s when she decided, she said, “I want to do this as a profession. … This had my heart.” She swept her computer analyst mother and accountant dad (“very analytical people”) into her dream and overcame their misgivings about the entertainment world, particularly classical ballet, the slice that still lacks many prominent role models for African American women.