February 6, 2022
Each February, Black leaders that fought for the rights of marginalized African Americans and risked their lives doing so are celebrated throughout the month. At WHS, school faculty, the Equity Club, Black Student Association, Gay-Straight Alliance, and Asian Student Union continue to find new and engaging ways of educating students on Black issues.
In previous years, there were CORE lessons dedicated to educating students on civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela. To fit this year's theme of Black Health and Wellness, club leaders brainstormed ideas for how to celebrate Black History Month in a way that would reach more students and honor not only Black Americans but the whole diaspora. Leaders Issy Grady (11), David Young (10), and Sumaiyah Ryan (12) shared their thoughts on why learning about Black history is so important.
“[Black History Month] creates a good opportunity to engage in often difficult discussions about race and the way that it affects our society,” Young said. “Not to mention it is a time to honor and reflect on the changes made by Black leaders such as Malcolm X and Angela Davis, who fought for the liberation of our people, Nelson Mandela who fought heavily to end the apartheid in South Africa, and John Lewis, who fostered social change through the walls of Capitol Hill.”
To start off Black History Month, there will be a meeting between the BSA, ASU, GSA, and Equity Club with the purpose of promoting solidarity and education amongst students at Westfield. Along with this, there will be guest speakers throughout the month, and visits from HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) fraternities, and sororities as well. Furthermore, BSA also plans to give back to the community by planning a book drive centered around black figures and authors. They will donate all funds to the Westfield Public Library, in hopes of building a more diverse and inclusive book selection that will include more Black authors and stories. This year's focus will be on providing Black students with the knowledge needed to be successful in adulthood, and opportunities that usually aren’t offered. Guest speakers from all different walks of life serve as much-needed representation and show that it doesn’t matter where one starts, but where one ends up.
“So this year for Black history month we're working with BSA, and part of what their plans are, that I know of, having speakers as often as we can during CORE, and learning from influential black people in our community,” President of Equity Club Sumaiyah Ryan shared.
The efforts made by Black students to spread their culture is a vital contribution to individuals and groups alike, impacting the WHS community, and leading to education on important issues that currently have little to no awareness and attention. In regards to the specific impacts of Black History Month and its education,
“I think that celebrating black history month is important because it allows people to get an education on underrepresented topics not taught in a regular history class,” Grady said. “Since some of the curriculum is whitewashed, Black History Month lets truth seep through.”
The efforts of Black students at Westfield have guaranteed that Black history is celebrated all of the time, not just one month out of the year.
“I am excited to hopefully implement this history into lessons that will access the whole school and leave an impact on students,” Grady said.