Reflections on Black History Month
Mar 1, 2021
At The Richmond Neighborhood Center, we believe it’s important to lift up Black voices and be intentional about the ways we celebrate Black History Month in our youth programs. For the last four weeks, our K-12 youth programs have been exploring Black arts and culture, learning about iconic (and many lesser known) Black luminaries, and discussing what racial justice means to them.
We also believe that celebrating Black history and Black excellence must be included in our curriculum all year long. As part of our wide range of multicultural and identity-based programs, this invites all students to explore ideas of identity, advocacy and empowerment of themselves and their communities, and helps build solidarity among our neighborhood’s young people.
In our virtual elementary school programs, participants studied the history of Black music and dance in America, ranging from jazz to hip-hop and breakdancing. They also learned about African American folk art, which culminated in a Black History Month quilting project inspired by the work of renowned Bay Area quilt artist Marion Coleman.
BIPOC students in our programs at Presidio Middle School started their own podcast, where they discuss Black representation in media and education, as well as their own experiences as young people of color in San Francisco. Additionally, students took virtual tours of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and learned about their unique cultural and historical significance.
Meanwhile, Roosevelt Middle School participants integrated Black History Month studies into all of their academic subjects, exploring topics such as the financial impacts of racism, the history of unethical scientific experiments on Black communities, and the history of Black-led social movements. They also hosted a panel discussion with Black scientists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, and other professionals.
Our programs for students from Washington and Wallenberg High Schools hosted several Black History Month events, including a self-care poetry workshop inspired by the work of Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou and a soul food cooking class. They wrapped up the month with a trivia challenge covering all the Black history topics and figures they learned about.
Though it’s not yet safe to conduct all of our youth programs in person, we’re hoping that it won’t be long before we can see our students face to face. In the meantime, we’ll continue to celebrate Black stories that inspire and empower our students to fight for justice.
Feature photo: A mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. created by students at our 2019 Dare to DREAM event