Black History Month Celebrates Influential Figures Throughout History

Last month, students across divisions celebrated Black History Month in a myriad of ways.
Lower Schoolers kicked off the month with a Community Time gathering led by student members of Boys of Color at Allen-Stevenson (BOCAS) and Exploring Race, Gender and Origins (ERGO). Students from these groups shared interesting facts about influential Black Americans throughout history, including a touching tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. Said the BOCAS boys, quoting Kobe Bryant himself, “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
 
Author and Cartoonist Jerry Craft spent an entire day meeting with boys across grades to inspire our boys by talking to them about the many obstacles he overcame on his path to becoming an author and. Growing up, Mr. Craft liked books in which he could identify with the characters – but he didn’t see himself in any of the books he read. So, he decided to write his own book, a graphic novel called Mama’s Boyz. Mr. Craft had to teach himself how to self-publish this book, because nobody would publish it! Fast forward, and Mr. Craft is a best-selling, award-winning author, recently winning the Coretta Scott King Book Award, which is given to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults, and was awarded the first Newbery Medal ever given to a graphic novel for his book New Kid.
 
In the Fourth Grade, Sarah Luposello and Lorenzo Bellard’s classes spent the month conducting student-driven research on influential Black Americans throughout history who have had diverse impacts on society. The boys independently researched and then came together as a class to share and discuss their findings.
 
Some of the important icons researched included: the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (a precursor of the U.S. Air Force); Marley Dias, an 11-year-old girl who a started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the main character; Olympic and World Championship medal-winning American artistic gymnast Simone Biles; and Louis Armstrong, the renowned jazz musician whose career stretched across five decades and has had vast influences in the field of music.
 
As a culmination of their research, fourth graders embarked on a scavenger hunt. Ms. Luposello and Mr. Bellard scattered fact cards around the classroom and provided a sheet of questions. The boys were challenged with discovering which influential person connected with each fact.
 
Allen-Stevenson brought Black History Month to a close by celebrating influential Black American musicians and artists during Middle and Upper School Friday Morning Meeting. The assembly was organized by our Community Life + Diversity team in conjunction with BOCAS and kicked off with an introduction by alumnus and peer mentor Paul Coverdale ’98.
 
Actress and singer Zuri Washington gave a compelling performance of the song “At Last” by Etta James. Following Ms. Washington, tap dancers Derick Grant and Ryan Clark took the stage, accompanied by a few of their students. Mr. Grant and Mr. Clark spoke about historical icons from the African American tap dance community, demonstrated their captivating dance moves, and even taught some of our boys a few tap steps.
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Allen-Stevenson’s distinctive “enlightened traditional” approach educates boys to become scholars and gentlemen.