Black History Month at SHA


“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” – Carter G. Woodson

Every year, Black History Month is celebrated across the country- in schools, in communities, and in individual lives. It is essential that everyone tries to understand the importance and meaning behind this national celebration of the achievements of Black Americans and their influential role in the history of America. After decades of suppressing the history of Black Americans and their lives, Black History Month is an important time for the country to ensure African American history is a part of education in schools, in workspaces, and in everyday life. 

In 1915, the Harvard historian Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. It was and still is an organization dedicated to studying the achievements and successes of African Americans. In 1926, during the second week of February, the organization celebrated Black History Week. This week in February was chosen because it coincided with Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. This event inspired many other communities and schools to host their own events, celebrations, seminars, and performances. 

In the years following, mayors in cities country-wide began to issue proclamations recognizing the special week. In the late 1960s, Black History Week evolved into Black History Month across many school campuses, largely because of the active Civil Rights Movement. In 1976, Black History Month was nationally recognized for the first time by President Gerald Ford. The president at the time urged people to “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. 

Every year, Black History Month is assigned a specific theme. For 2021, the theme is Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. This theme is meant to explore the expansion of Black families across the country, also regarded as the African Diaspora. 

There are several ways to celebrate Black History Month. The most important way to celebrate this time is to engage in active education, conversation, and awareness about the African American experience and history. Amongst the NAACP’s list of 28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month are : 

  • Support a black business
  • Visit it a Civil Rights Museum
  • Donate to a Black organization
  • Read a book by a Black author
  • Eat soul food !
  • Listen to Black artists
  • Watch a documentary or movie- (13th, Selma, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, 42)

To read the entire list, click here.

At Sacred Heart Academy, SHAdes of SHA makes sure the school actively participates in this celebration. Imani Okech, secretary of SHAdes of SHA, and a heavily involved activist for social justice and equality within our school explains just exactly how SHAdes is making efforts to spread awareness, “For BHM we have been having multiple meetings getting ready for this year’s Diversity Week, trying to figure out safe ways to celebrate the school’s diversity. We’ve also been using the club’s Instagram to our advantage and have been posting every week one Black figure and spreading their legacies.”

Amongst these posts are summarized biographies of figures like Fred Hampton, leader of the Chicago Black Panther movement. You can also find information about Marcus Garvey, founder of the Negro World Newspaper. Several other important figures to read about this month are Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and many more. To read about lesser-known important figures, click here.

Diversity Week at Sacred Heart Academy is a week dedicated to the celebration of different cultures within our school, and is one of the most exciting weeks at SHA. During Diversity Week, SHAdes typically holds several different activities after school, like dumpling making with Chinese Club, watching foreign films with the French Club, or Zumba classes in the gym. At the end of the week there is a potluck, where the club brings food from all different cultures to share with others that attend. The club also holds a Diversity Week Assembly, where a guest speaker is invited and dance performances take place as well as the beloved fashion show. This year, things of course, will be a little different. While there cannot be a large assembly in the gym, the club is making massive efforts to continue to keep the special traditions of this week. The fashion show will be a composition of videos in which anyone can upload and turn in videos of them in their traditional dress. Submissions are due by March 12, and Diversity Week will be from March 22-26. Further information will be emailed to all the students, and posted on the SHAdes Instagram. 

During this time it is also important to remain aware of the ongoing injustice in our country towards minorities, specifically Black Americans. There are many ways one can get involved, whether it be by participating in active conversation, donating to funds, or simply calling out friends or family for offensive or harmful statements. To find charities to donate to, click here.

Ultimately, Black History Month doesn’t end when February is over. While this month is a good reminder of the importance of Black American lives and history, it is essential to make an effort to continually educate our children as well as ourselves about Black American’s influence and legacies. 

A few quotes to remember: 

  • “A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.” — Malcolm X
  • “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.” – Rosa Parks
  • “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King 
  • “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” —Langston Hughes
  • “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” —Frederick Douglass
  • “The time is always right to do what is right.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For an extended list of important quotes by black figures, click here.