Black History Month

“People need to stop talking about Black History Month or black people as a kind of sore subject.” -Lily Ba


Aubree Bowsher, Mallory Love, Reporter

“I think people should, if they have questions about black history or anything like that, feel free to ask people and not be scared,” senior Cynthia Johnson* said. 

In 1926, the second week of February was celebrated in schools and communities across the country as Black History Week. The week was chosen because Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass both had birthdays near that time. In the late 1960’s, it became a month-long celebration with the push of the Civil Rights Movement, and was officially recognized in 1976, by our then-president Gerald Ford. February is a time when black history and black people are celebrated for  their accomplishments and achievements that are generally not properly recognized.

“I think it’s important because I feel like, especially in this country, some people are mad about black people getting recognition, but the month is a time where it is to be recognized,” senior Lily Ba said. “It really does show that there’s still racism like that. Stuff still happens even though people think they’re in a really good community.”

Discrimination and prejudice in school are forbidden by law but can be exhibited in other ways.

“It was really unfortunate, especially watching the way some people reacted. It showed a lot of people’s true colors,” Ba said while discussing the racial slurs written on the Blue Valley High press box Jan. 22.

“For me it wasn’t too surprising.” Ba said.

Blue Valley High’s sophomore Jimmy Walker expressed their concerns regarding the acts of vandalism.

“I was offended, because the stuff inside was so racist, sexist, and inappropriate,” Walker said. “Honestly I’m kind of ashamed, because the kid went to my school.” 

In a poll on the Spotlight Media Instagram, of 134 students respondants, 41% have seen or experienced racism in the school environment.  Racial slurs, jokes, and negative assumptions were all reported in direct messages.

Lack of diversity may be a contributing factor to the discrimination. School data provided by the registrar shows only 35.4% of students are people of color. As much as the district tries to create an inclusive environment for everyone, equality can’t be forced and it is hard to achieve. Racist ideologies and practices expand  beyond the Blue Valley School district. Throughout our country’s history, there has been a lack of racial equality and justice.

President Joe Biden attempted to address the issue of racism in the United States through his Proclamation on National Black History Month.

“Black culture is American culture, and black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America – our faults, our progress, and our aspirations,” Biden said. “Black Americans can be seen in every part of our society today, strengthening and uplifting all of America.”

While the government works to undo years of prejudice and help create racial equality, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) also works on creating racial equality by researching and promoting the contributions of black people. ASALH’s goals is to reach racial equality and justice in our community and decides the theme of Black History Month each year. In 2021, the theme was The Black Family: representation, identity, and diversity. Last Year, it was Black Health and Wellness. The 2023 focus is on challenging racist stereotypes, medical practices, and general discrimination; learning about black history that has been whitewashed and minimized; and driving political action with the theme Black Resistance.

Ways that students and community members can participate in Black History Month include:

-Attend a black history or black culture event
-Learn about a lesser-known hero in black history
-Call out racism and prejudice
-Subscribe to black media and black press
-Bring awareness to the prejudice and inequality that black people face

Both Ba and the other sources agree that it is important to participate in Black History Month.

“I think Black History Month is really a time to show achievements and things a lot of black people did in the history of America,” Johnson said.

When people make an effort to include everyone, a more welcoming environment is created.

“It’s just the little things, like not making jokes and not trying to make people feel awkward,” Ba said.

The senior noted that it feels good to be represented and recognized, even in simple ways.

“I like when I go into stores and I see a section of things by black owners or black businesses and stuff like that. I feel like it’s good for some people to get some recognition that it’s hard to get otherwise,” Ba said.

Increasing awareness about black history has an impact. The US has come a long way towards racial equality, however until everyone is treated with the same amount of respect and dignity the need for awareness continues.


*Cynthia Johnson and Jimmy Walker are pseudonyms