Features Magazine Volume 69, Issue 5

Las Lomas Celebrates Black History

Introduction

In accordance with the annual national celebration, Las Lomas students and staff  honored Black History Month this February with a number of activities including a speaker series, film showing, door displays, and posters. Both the school’s Black Student Union and Leadership Class are sponsoring this year’s activities. 

Vice Principal Giron explains that Black History Month offers Las Lomas students valuable opportunities to engage beyond their classroom curriculum and gain a more rich and broader educational experience about the role of African Americans in our nation’s history.

History

Black History Month is celebrated every February in the United States to recognize the contributions that African Americans have made to our country and the world. This event was created in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland. It was initially named  “Negro History Week” to inform students about the accomplishments of African Americans. Woodson and Moorland specifically chose the second week of February for this occasion to honorFrederick Douglass as his birthday is celebrated at this time. Woodson hoped that this event would broaden the focus beyond Douglass to other African Americans who had made contributions to the country. Later, during the late 1960s as the Civil Rights Movement was progressing, this event grew into a month-long celebration on a number of college campuses, coinciding with a broader effort to address race relations in the United States. For the first time in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially declared February as Black History Month and promoted a specific theme for the public to focus on during this occasion. Subsequent presidents have continued the tradition of this celebration. In 2020, the theme for Black History Month is “African Americans and the Vote.”

Improvements

Due primarily to the work of the Black Student Union and Leadership Class, this February’s Black History Month at Las Lomas is overall a more robust and meaningful event than in the past. Mr. Giron, in his third year as an administrator at Las Lomas, praises the work that the two organizations have done in creating this year’s events: “This is the first year that there has been a serious effort to celebrate Black History Month.” BSU students offer mixed reviews of this year’s activities. In particular, Sophomore J.J. Manuel said thatLas Lomas is “…doing a pretty good job with Black History Month, but maybe we could do more activities…Certain aspects of what they’ve been doing have been successful, such as putting up posters to raise awareness about famous black icons that a majority of people didn’t know much or anything about.” Sophomore, Ella Schwab said. “However, I feel that Leadership’s job of raising publicity wasn’t as successful as it could’ve been, and that everything that’s gone on regarding Black History Month has been a result of BSU’s work alone.”

Las Lomas Events

Many events took place in which students learned about the accomplishments and roles of African American men and women in such disciplines as politics, law, arts, sports, entertainment, science, business, education, and medicine. The calendar of events began on February 3 with a class door decorating contest. Students competed by creating displays featuring prominent African Americans and their accomplishments. Next, on February 5th, and every academy after for the rest of the month, BSU students recited poems about Black History over the PA system. Also on February 5th at Academy, Endy Ukoa-Ajike spoke to students about what it means to be a African American police officer in the Wellness Center. Valagrams were sold at lunch for $2 each for nearly every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, and were delivered during 2nd period. The door decorating contest ended on Thursday the 13th. On February 19th there was another announcement at academy and a speaker and the following day there was a Community Movie Night in the Theater at 7 PM where they showed Harriet. Next, on February 21st there was a BSU Summit at Del Valle all day. Lastly, to end the month on February 28, there was a final poetry reading and a short film showing the world without black people during academy. These events provided opportunities to honor individuals for their important contributions to our country and the world. 

Moving Forward

While there are many that appreciate and enjoy the observance of Black History Month across the country, there are those that feel that merely devoting one month out of the year to highlight African Americans and their role in history is not an effective way to educate students about African American history. This view promotes the position that school curriculums should be integrating black history and the accompanying issues of race into the learning process and in the topics that are covered throughout the year. In other words, black history is essentially American history and should be studied as such. In fact, Carl Woodson had hoped that the week-long event that he had started would ultimately be woven into the daily curriculum of history classes and the daily life of all Americans. Mr. Giron agrees that students should be “learning about African American history all year.”