I am sure that we are familiar with Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in America; Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress; Daniel Hale Williams, an African American general surgeon, performed the second documented, successful pericardium surgery to repair a wound in the United States of America; and Mary McLeod Bethune, best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, right?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is most likely “no” due to the lack of education on Black History amongst many educators today.
Although these figures and events have all greatly affected who African Americans are today, and are the reason why African Americans stand for our cultural unity, they are not the only figures and events that make up Black history.
Black History Month was first established as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It wasn’t until 1976 that every U.S. president officially designated the month of February as Black History Month, which can be credited to President Gerald Ford, who recognized Black History Month during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial.
Whether we enjoy talking about it or not, over the years, “Black History Month” has been a phrase and concept that we have all grown accustomed to. Black History Month is a vital celebration of achievement, acknowledging all of the adversities that African-Americans have gone through; but, there are millions of stories that go untold.
In previous years, Da Vinci Communication’s Black History Lessons have primarily focused on the things that we have learned throughout all of our school years: publicized black figures, slavery, segregation and boycotts.
“Although they are both influential people in the progressiveness of African-Americans, growing up I always learned about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, which always made me think that it would be refreshing to hear more about Black figures that aren’t necessarily considered ‘famous’,” said Adam Eynon, Assistant Principal of DVC.
It wasn’t until Kamrie Anderson and Madison Aubry, both alumni of DVC and founders of the Black Student Union (BSU), that this changed. During the 2016/17 school year, BSU created lesson plans to teach during Black History Month, with intentions to expose students to Black figures that are not popularly known, but equally important.
Carrying on the legacy, this year’s BSU has decided to connect the past to the present, while letting the unsung heroes sing. Through advisory lessons, BSU acknowledges the hardships that are very much prevalent to this day, while introducing students at DVC to new historical figures that they were not exposed to before.
“We decided this year to not only introduce students at DVC to new historical figures but have controversial topics that many are scared to talk about,” Destiny Feyijimi, a senior and co-president of BSU at DVC said. “Our hopes this year are to not only deepen the knowledge of those in BSU and the DVC community but to encourage our peers and embed a sense of awareness for the adversities that those in the Black community have faced in the past and present.”
Da Vinci Schools are unlike many schools in many aspects; but, when putting planning events, including Black History Month, DVC set the bar high, due to everything being student-led.
“The goal is to make students more intrigued in learning. Showing videos that exemplify what we are trying to get across and engaging in conversations throughout the lessons, rather than simply ‘teaching’ have seemed to be a tactic used this year,” Kai Morris, a senior and member of BSU at DVC, commented.
Providing the chance for DVC students to focus on the different aspects of Black culture, and all that it’s been, is not only important but influential, for they have both, directly and indirectly, contributed to each and every one of our lives.
“Black History is 24/7, 365 days a year, so it’s important to recognize the impact of Black Americans all of the time,” Andrew Daramola, the current 10th grade World History teacher, expressed. “We have a great start here already, but it will be great to see how we might include even more events outside of advisory and CD.”