High school celebrating black history in many way this month

February is the time to celebrate Black History month.  In 1976 President Gerald Ford became the first president to designate the entire month of  February to observe and honor our black citizens for their accomplishments. To celebrate this month,teachers and students are making  posters showcasing black history month by decorating their classroom doors and designing bulletin boards around the school to celebrate. 

Natasia Johnson, from BSU(Black Student Union), said they have things planned too. “We are going to The Hill event in Des Moines, doing in class discussions about Black History, having small power hour meetings and doing events such as poetry read aloud and a soul food cookout, and we are trying to get the school to play the black national anthem every Friday.”  Johnson said,  “Like it would be as if we were having an assembly but in class in order to have people give their thoughts on certain things instead of us just talking at them.We are planning to discuss Black History without the sugar coating. For example, telling all the facts about slavery that teachers seem to leave out.” 

A lot of planning has been done and the evidence of that support for Black History Month can be seen by clicking Pictures of Cedar Falls to see the doors and the creative posters around the school along with teachers incorporating black history into their classroom and curriculum. Any teacher that is not teaching history can still find ways to incorporate Black History Month. For example, an English teacher may  introduce black authors or even read stories about them will mean a lot. Brenna Griffin, an English teacher, said, “Black History Month is a time for everyone to take stock of and celebrate the contributions Black people have made to our history. Personally, I try to read exclusively Black authors during Black History month and be sure I’m guiding my students to look to Black authors as well. Of course, Black History is relevant and important all of the time, but I see this month as a time we as teachers can take a step back and make sure we are consistently representing Black voices and perspectives in our classrooms.” 

Media specialist Abby Hendrickson said,  “I knew I wanted to decorate the library doors with black poets. I found inspiration from a Google search when I found the picture of Tupac.  I thought Tupac is someone almost all students still know of. He was an amazing poet and his words still resonate today. I wanted to balance that out with a famous poet that I love who students may now know much about: Maya Angelou. Maya is a brilliant, beautiful author, poet and human. She also was a civil rights activist throughout most of her life. I think she is one of the wisest humans to ever walk the earth. She is known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was published in 1969. President Obama honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. She died in 2014 and is now the first black woman featured on a US quarter.”   

Over all, the efforts of Griffin and Hendrickson to connect with black authors to show their support can mean a lot for people of color.

Black history is not only reserved at Cedar Falls High School for the month of February. It’s a  year round engagement through the group known as Sihle.  Sihle is a group for young African American women with the purpose to provide a comfortable, supportive environment to allow for discussion about life as a young, black woman. Dr. Carley, doctor of education and masters of public policy at UNI, has a huge impact on those she mentors inside and outside of school. 

“What I do to celebrate black history within the schools is I do my Sihle program, which is a program specifically for African American young girls, and we talked about things like what it means to be young black and female, like how we are viewed by society, how we are viewed in the media and how we view ourselves. We compared those things how we are viewed by our peers, how we are viewed by our teachers and we talk about those things and talk about those issues because for some of us, we’re not viewed in such a positive light, so I try to encourage my young girls to be the best they can be, and so that’s how I celebrate my black history month. In the past, I have had conversations with the girls about historical black colleges and universities during Black History Month and encouraged them to take a look at those institutions. I also have for Black History Month talked about an unknown figure in  black history, Mae Jemison. It’s just one person that I like to discuss. I’m just trying to get my girls to know other figures besides Martin Luther King and King Coretta Scott King.”

As a school, we honor our folks and their many accomplishments that have changed the world. And, even though there are still a handful of people that treat racism as a joke, for Cedar Falls High School having events planned for Black History Month is saying a lot about the people around us who are willing to show their support, especially for our schools being more white. It shows that they care about our minority population even though it might not be a normal thing for them.

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