Four weeks of performing one-person shows for the Ohio Historical Society, and Anthony Gibbs didn't earn a dime for it.

Four weeks of performing one-person shows for the Ohio Historical Society, and Anthony Gibbs didn't earn a dime for it.

He did, however, receive feedback for his portrayal of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar as part of the Ohio Historical Society's Echoes in Time Theatre series.

Everyone who performs for the theatre series is a volunteer, according to coordinator Mike Follin.

It wasn't the first time Gibbs volunteered his expertise for the Ohio Historical Society. He also presented a program about the Tuskegee Airmen for the theatre series earlier this year.

"It gives me exposure and actually helps me to develop and prepare these newer programs," said Gibbs, a Canal Winchester-area resident who presents black history programs to students and workshops for teachers through his business, Black Historic Impressions.

He's also employed as a human resources department supervisor for Toys R Us and serves as a youth pastor at the Cathedral of the Covenant Church in Columbus.

Gibbs said his work through Black Historic Impressions, which he started nearly four years ago, has reached thousands of students across the state. He said he mostly performs for students in fourth, fifth and eighth grades.

Gibbs' one-hour programs include: "Courage in the Skies: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen," "Fighting for Freedom: The Story of the United States Colored Troops" and "The Promised Land: John Parker and the Underground Railroad."

"You really have to be entertaining for the kids," said Gibbs, who previously worked as a public programming assistant and as an interpreter and program coordinator for the Ohio Historical Society. "You have to keep their attention."

He does.

Michelle Appelbaum, a volunteer parent at Maryland Elementary School in Bexley, said you could hear a pin drop when Gibbs performed for fifth-graders there last school year.

"They were spellbound listening to him," Appelbaum said. "He has no props. You would think that kids need visual aids, but he's just there by himself, dressed in period dress. He's so animated. He does a great job of drawing kids in and really getting them engaged."

Brian Holland, a first-grade teacher at Tussing Elementary School in Pickerington, said Gibbs performed for all the students there earlier this year.

"Every eye was on him and every mouth was open," Holland said. "He didn't use a microphone or anything. They had to be quiet to hear him, and they were."

Holland said Gibbs makes subjects that aren't typically discussed easy to understand and relative to current times.

"He breaks it into bite-sized pieces so children can understand," Holland said. "He brings it to life."

Gibbs, who earned a bachelor's degree in history from The Ohio State University, researches the people he portrays extensively. He said he finds and reads letters, newspaper articles and credible books written about or by the person.

"I try to get primary sources," Gibbs said. "That's your raw history. That's your truth."

He also ties in curriculum lessons to help students prepare for their Ohio Achievement Tests.

Of those he regularly portrays, Gibbs' favorite is John Parker.

"He truly had a passion," Gibbs said of Parker, adding that he continually put his life at risk despite having a family.

Gibbs said he has a lot of respect for the Tuskegee Airmen.

"I wanted to be able to honor them and to keep their stories going," he said.

While he admires a number of African-American historical figures -- Nelson Mandela, W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few -- he can't narrow it down to just one favorite.

"I definitely do this because of a love for history," Gibbs said.

Follin, of the Ohio Historical Society, said Gibbs is one of the finest African-American history interpreters he's worked with.

"He's a young man of extraordinary talent and ability," Follin said. "He doesn't shy away from the historical fact."