2021 Black History Month at McAuliffe


Bella Kim

BHM posters in Poster Alley.

Bella Kim, Co-Editor

As February approaches, so does Black History Month, the month to celebrate African American history and achievements. McAuliffe ASB is planning activities so students can become more involved and informed about recognizing this culture.

February has been recognized as Black History Month (BHM) or African American History Month in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other countries since 1976. According to History, a site with historical articles and videos, “Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.” 

The idea came from the historian Carter G. Woodson and the minister Jesse E. Moorland. Woodson and Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in September of 1915, 50 years after the 13th amendment outlawed slavery. Now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), its purpose is to research and support achievements made by all people of African descent. 

The ASALH started an African American history week in 1926, and others followed their example. Because of the Civil Rights Movement, by the late 1960s, colleges had turned it into a history month. Several events related to civil rights took place in February, which is why it was chosen as BHM. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded on Feb. 12, 1909, and Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday is on that exact date. An activist against slavery, Frederick Douglass was also born in February. 

Gerald Ford, our 38th president, made February the official BHM in 1976. Every year since the ASALH has chosen a different theme to represent the year’s BHM. “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” is the theme for 2021. It spotlights the black families spreading across our country. McAuliffe’s instrumental music director, Mr. Fontaine, voices, “I hope it gives us a safe place to discover things, positive and negative, but in a safe, guided environment with our friends.”

ASB’s Community Service committee has put together a slides presentation to inform students about the history of BHM and its impact. Included in the presentation is an informational video called “Kids Explain Black History Month.” Dublynn Schuck, an eighth grader and director of the Community Service committee, adds, “We’re also going to do a ‘Jeopardy!’ [competition] to get students more interested in learning more about it.” Posters will be hung around campus featuring prominent black figures in history, details on the Black Lives Matter movement, African American holidays, music and soul food. 

Additionally, for the rest of the month, Ms. Swihart, McAuliffe’s art teacher, is hosting craft sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays after each cohort. Students will make a portrait inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s abstract expressionist style. He was known for his graffiti-like paintings that represented the hardships African Americans went through even in modern times.

The Leadership class is doing much this year to make sure that all students feel represented and appreciated in their different ethnicities and cultures. Mr. Fontaine lends, “Understanding our differences and learning more about them, and then being able to celebrate them, I think that’s going to be really key for our whole country to take giant steps forward.” It is important to learn about other cultures and be open to differences, so everyone feels valued. 

Black History Month gives everyone a chance to appreciate the history and accomplishments of African Americans and what they have contributed to the world. Recognizing the diversity of other cultures can help create a sense of belonging and acceptance in our community.