LCN celebrates Black History Month

Jessie DiBattista ‘14
Copy Editor

AND

Maegan Donajkowski ‘14
Photographer

 

It started with a bus seat. As a woman entered a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955, everything seemed to be normal; however, police arrived and history was made.
Rosa Parks, most commonly known as the mother of the civil rights movement, refused to give up her seat for a white man. With this act, she sparked the civil rights movement which helped to abolish segregation, and today we remember her by celebrating Black History Month.
Black History Month is celebrated every year in America. School announcements, billboards, posters and much more are broadcast all over the country during the month of February.
“It’s good to celebrate the history of America,” Dominic Mora ’16 said.
Black History Month celebrates many African Americans throughout history such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, Jane Bolin and many more.
Also, Black History Month traces back to the abolition of slavery. On December 18, 1865, the thirteenth amendment which states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” was abolished. It was great feat in American history and struck a balance in America forever.
Communities come together with local meetings, and speakers commemorate Black History Month. Also, in schools Black History Month is emphasized and kids participate in plays and projects.
At LCN, students have been reading facts on the daily announcements, several are participating in a door decorating contest, and others are creating a program for a school assembly (see related story on page 11).
According afroamhistory.com, Black History was celebrated originally for just one week until February 1976 when President Gerald Ford extended it to a full month to better celebrate the culture. Even though Black History month is celebrated by many across the country, some think that the month is not necessary.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s just Black History Month. I’m actually other ethnicities, not just black, so I don’t see the point of it all,” Kendrick Wimbley ’14 said.
Some feel that taking one month out of the year to celebrate Americans is not needed and that is what the Fourth of July is for.
“I feel that Black History month is important, but black people are Americans too, and we celebrate American pride on the Fourth of July. . .” Samantha Charlton ’14 said.
“I feel that Black History Month just emphasizes my race, and that’s good, but aren’t we all equal? Isn’t that what America is about?” Christian Jordan ’14 said.
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech on segregation. He spoke about the dreams he had of every race coming together, without the cruel actions of others. This speech is a mainstay of the civil rights era.
Several English classes here have been doing projects related to the month. Sheila Esshaki’s English 10 classes have just completed a poetry unit using Maya Angelou.
“Angelou writes about the struggles of African Americans. . .there are times when she is hopeful and other times when she is bitter. We look closely at diction to make decisions about tone,” Esshaki said.
Her Honors English 10 students have just finished the autobiography of Richard Wright, Black Boy. They participated in a design charrette: a collaborative effort to synthesize Wright’s experiences with what they know about American history, she said.
Meanwhile, Deanna Hammes’ English 9 classes have been reading and discussing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
She said, “We have had great discussions about race, segregation and discrimination.”
Another English class, Contemporary Life Issues, also did a project. Prior to reading A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, students wrote about and discussed the American Dream and how it might differ from an African American family during the Civil Rights movement.
Teacher Pam VanThomme said, “We discussed various African American authors of the time. After reading, students were put into groups and given packets containing, historical documents, poems and songs, photos and political cartoons. . . As a class, we discussed the findings from the activity and the struggles African Americans face today.”
Although the majority of Americans know about Black History Month, it is not globally recognized.
“I am from China, and I did not know what Black History Month was until this interview. I don’t look at black people as different in America; I just see everyone as the same,” Cameron Tan ’16 said.
Many others recognize its importance and know why it is needed.
“I think it is a great celebration to have each year. It is good to celebrate diversity and realize the importance of American history,” Diversity Club Member Justin Cory ‘14 said.
It started with a bus seat and the rest is history.

Contemporary Life Issues students, taught by Pam VanThomme, complete a project focused on A Raisin in the Sun.

Contemporary Life Issues students, taught by Pam VanThomme, complete a project focused on A Raisin in the Sun.