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Commemorating Black History Month

Last month, all three divisions at Boys’ Latin commemorated Black History with a multitude of assemblies and presentations. The challenges of the pandemic did not stop the Black Awareness Club (BAC) from leading the community in honoring black history with a full slate of programs, both virtual and in person. Rather than focus on such familiar figures as Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass, the BAC selected what it described as “themes not often discussed that celebrate the beauty of being black.”

“Black History Month is a time to honor Black Joy, Black Excellence, and, in general, the accomplishments of Black Americans,” said Kristen Tubman, a BAC faculty sponsor and BL’s Community and Global Programming Coordinator, “Ideally we are always bringing these aspects into our classrooms, yet the month of February is a good occasion to give extra recognition and to strive for a focus on celebration while also looking honestly at history.”

Programs included:

  • A presentation on black socioeconomic history, which included lessons on the 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa and the formation of the Black Panther Party.
  • A student-led presentation and discussion on Black Art History, which spotlighted recently departed actress Cicely Tyson among other great performers.
  • A virtual assembly with guests from the African Diaspora Alliance, which focused on the ways that people of African descent dispersed around the world.
  • A presentation that introduced the audience to some of the lesser-known heroes of black history.
  • A short introductory film created by Josh Woodson ’11 that featured more than twenty current Boys’ Latin student speaking about their thoughts on Black History.

The BAC, led by Mrs. Tubman, math teacher Alan-Michael Carter ‘11, and French teacher Terry Howell, was instrumental in programming the entire month. A variety of students, including BAC’s student leaders Sean Bagley ‘22, Didier Osias ‘21, Kofi Akuffo ‘21, and Neelen McMillan ’21, led discussions and created content for virtual presentations.

Mr. Carter applauded the students who worked tirelessly to create programming. "Because of the leadership of our students, we have been exposed to Black History in a different way than normal and it has impacted our campus at large,” said Alan-Michael Carter, “We look forward to continued opportunities for Black History to be shared and learned at Boys’ Latin.”

Students in the Middle School followed the lead of their Upper School peers. Seventh and eighth graders viewed the Upper School BAC’s presentation on the African Diaspora, while sixth graders learned about the continent’s geography and competed see which of them could most quickly name the countries of Africa. Additionally, eighth grade students who made first semester Dean’s List were invited to participate in the monthly Honors Seminar, a new offering this year. For this month’s meeting, boys read and discussed an essay entitled “Martin Luther King’s Forgotten Call for Economic Justice.”

“Our observation of Black History Month moved us closer to realizing Dr. King's ‘beloved community,’ predicated on justice, belonging, and a commitment to the decency of every individual in our division,” said new Middle School Head Pen Vineyard, “The BAC gave our boys an example to follow and helped them imagine the young men they might be in a few years' time.”

The Lower School honored Black History Month with a program called HYPE (Highlighting Young People who have done Extraordinary things). Each weeks during assembly, fifth graders presented a profile of a notable young African American, including poet Amanda Gorman and educator Tony Weaver Jr.