The Black Student Union (BSU) organized a celebration of Black History Month in February. The event, planned by Bryce Berry ’19 and Asia Johnson-Brimmage ’19, co-heads of BSU, was entitled “Because of Them We Can.”
Berry and Johnson-Brimmage welcomed guests and invited them to rise and contribute to Lift Every Voice and Sing by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson, which is often referred to as the Black national anthem.
Two 8th grade students, Mat-Mat Hardy-Lyles ’23 and Devyn Rodgers ’23, presented on the purpose of Black History Month. Rodgers said, “A celebration of one culture is a celebration of them all.” Upper School English Teacher Celeste Prince offered a beautiful reading of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, and guests were encouraged to enjoy the artwork of Johnson-Brimmage and Tea Mitchell ’21 just outside the auditorium.
Kenny Townsend ’19 and Ivy Pease ’19 provided background on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Erica Moore, Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion and Student Activities, spoke on historically Black Greek letter organizations, also called “The Divine Nine.”
Krysten Holmes ’19, co-head of the African American Mentor Program (AAMP), introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Mike Jones, Student Engagement Coordinator for the Gephardt Institute for Civic Engagement at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Jones told the students that they are their ancestors’ wildest dreams.
After the keynote, Gerald Bentley ’19 and Jala Muhammad ’20 moderated a question-and-answer session with Dr. Jones. Najaah Muhammad ’21 and Afriky Lolo entertained the audience with a vibrant dance and musical performance. Brian Thomas, Assistant Head of School, closed the evening by reminding students how much they are loved and encouraged them to embrace and accept their responsibilities to shape the world with the gifts they’ve been given while remembering those who have come before and those we are missing now.