Remembering the past, looking to the future

Students create activities, events to celebrate Black History Month


Shanda Bailey, Reporter

Since 1986, Americans have celebrated Black History Month throughout February when Congress passed a law designating the month to “mark the beginning of the sixtieth annual public and private salute to Black History.”

A student committee, from freshmen to seniors, led by English teacher Sara Yates have put together activities and events for NAHS in order to commemorate Black History Month, including spirit week, daily quotes in the announcements, a door decorating contest and a unity activity.

“The ideas actually came from students who came to me and wanted to do more, not just in February but all year round,” Yates said. “Dr. Ginkins asked if there were any teachers that would want to head it and I volunteered just because of those students.”

Senior Elisha Jennings was the first to reach out and become involved. She says that she personally took the initiative outside of school to do this because sharing her culture is something that is important to her and she makes time for things that are important.

“It is important to celebrate [Black History Month] because it’s a part of history,” Jennings said.  “If you don’t know where we have been, how will we know where we are going? So it’s important to show representation. Same way we are forced to take history classes is the same way we need to continue to implement and celebrate BHM. Because it is still this country’s history that unfortunately people are trying to erase.” 

Only 15 percent of students in public schools, in all grade levels are people of color, according to the National Center for Education. Yates’ committee is hoping to educate more students about how Black History Month is beyond what we learn about in history class.

“It is important to celebrate [Black History Month] because it’s a part of history. If you don’t know where we have been, how will we know where we are going? So it’s important to show representation.”

— Elisha Jennings // 12

“I don’t think we do an adequate job sometimes at explaining what Black History means,” Yates said. “During Black History Month I think it’s a great time to focus on ‘what does that really mean?’ You say ‘Black History Month’ and people typically go to the older people like Martin Luther King, Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, all of the common names but they weren’t the only people. We kind of want to incorporate and educate people. It wasn’t just the five, six people but there’s so many more that helped along the way to make people more equal.”

Black History holds a special place in Yates’ heart.

“It is important to me personally for a few reasons, one being that my children are bi-racial, another because I have experienced things myself and lastly, because of the students here at NAHS,” Yates said.

In order to help educate more people, the committee incorporated inspirational quotes in the daily announcements. These quotes are from people that not everyone knows about when it comes to black history.

“There are different quotes from people throughout history that have either supported the Civil Rights Movement or people who supported abolishing slavery and things like that all the way up into more modern day,” Yates said. “We went online and found quotes from influential people as well as people we don’t really know exist because they get overlooked.” 

“Black history isn’t just about sad and brutal events,” Jennings said. “There is more to black history than what is continuously shown time after time again. And I want to use this time that I have to show that to be true.”

Throughout the past few years we have seen so much going on with equal rights and Black Lives Matter movements. Jennings says she hopes to share with her peers that we can’t erase what happened. Each culture is a part of our community and it is important for each of us to know our history in order to have a better understanding of where we came from and who we are.

“I just hope that no one gets offended with any of the stuff that we try to do,” Yates said. “I hope that it’s nothing but positive and I hope this continues on and we are able to take this little step stone and make it into something larger in the years going forward.”