How MacArthur emphasized Black History Month

During February, MacArthur students had lessons and announcements focusing on the contributions of African Americans.

Black History Month had its origins going back to 1926, but February officially became Black History month after President Gerald Ford officially recognized it in 1976 and the tradition has continued since.  The month-long commemoration was established as a way of remembering and teaching about important African Americans.  This year’s Black History Month theme was “Representation, Identity, and Diversity.”

MacArthur students had lessons in their Tiger Connection classes throughout February on Black History.  Ashley Blancarte said, “I think that it was cool cause they’re getting the recognition they deserve and it’s good that the school cares to educate us students and staff members too.”  The lessons included background on the month, contemporary newsmakers, and the Civil Rights movement.

Aside from the lessons taught, Principal Mr. Ray Gonzales would profile notable African Americans during the morning announcements.  During one announcement, Gonzales shared facts about Shirley Chisholm.  In 1968, she became the first African American Congresswoman, representing New York for 7 terms in the US House of Representatives.  Also, in 1972 Chisholm was the first African American woman to run as the Democrat candidate for U.S President. 

Students learned about Mae Carol Jemison. She was born on October 17, 1956. She was an engineer, physician, astronaut, teacher, and activist. She was the first African American to travel into space.  Ashley said, “I thought it was interesting because I learned about history that I didn’t know about before.”  

Gordon Parks was the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures.  He developed films relating to the experience with slaves and struggling black Americans.  People best remember him for his iconic photos of poor Americans in the 1940s and his photographic essays for life magazine.  In 2002 he was put into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. 

At the forefront of Black History month this year was the Black Lives Matter movement, which is especially important this year because of the notable deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.  Police violence against the black community has caused large-scale protests to bring about structural change.