In 1976, President Ford recognized Black History Month saying:
“In the Bicentennial year of our Independence, we can review with admiration the impressive contributions of Black Americans to our national life and culture. One hundred years ago, to help highlight these achievements, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. We are grateful to him today for his initiative, and we are richer for the work of his organization. In celebrating Black History Month… we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. I urge my fellow citizens to join me in tribute to Black History Month and the message of courage and perseverance it brings to all of us.”
As we reach the midpoint of February, we want to take this time to highlight some of the amazing things that are happening at SSFS to honor Black History Month:
On Feb. 9, the OIEJB welcomed singers Leila Gheitu and Daniel Smith from Washington National Opera, who performed selections for Middle and Upper School students. With our own Performing Arts teacher Dana Scott accompanying the singers and sharing the history of each of the pieces, Leila (soprano) and Daniel (baritone) gave stunning performances of selections from celebrated Black poets, musicians, composers, and performers such as Langston Hughes, Margaret Bonds, Audra McDonald, and more, followed by a Q&A session with students and faculty.
Also on Feb. 9, author Heather Burris joined Lower School students during Community Time via Zoom, where she read from her book, Hair Like Me, and took questions from students. The Lower School has been creating literature-themed door decorations that use an element of African American culture past or present to illustrate one of the following: representation, identity, social justice, or equity. Themes include Hair Love, Black Cowboy, Wild Horses, Hidden Figures, and more. In addition, books that fit the month’s themes are available in the main building for teachers to use in classrooms, along with a bulletin board highlighting important historical figures.
The Middle School learned the history of Black History Month in an advisory lesson, and students were asked to reflect on activism in the past, present, and future during Meeting for Worship. The query posed reminded our students that they are the social justice leaders of the future, and challenged them to educate themselves, talk to each other, and get involved in activism efforts to make the world a more just place. Celebrations in the MS have also included a display of books by Black authors and a bulletin board highlighting important historical figures.
In the Upper School, the focus is on Black experiences. There are displays highlighting Black stories told by Black authors and Black filmmakers, Black Greek Letter Organizations, and the students' own experiences as Black people from across the African Diaspora. The Upper School Black Student Affinity group will be hosting the Middle School Black Student Affinity group to build community across the divisions.