Celebrating Black History Month


Nick Lupinacci

African American role models: Angela Davis and Bayard Rustin

This February marks the 47th anniversary of celebrating Black History Month as an officially recognized annual event in the United States. Both North Penn High School and the North Penn school district have activities planned to honor the occasion.

Here at North Penn High School, we will have our Colors of Pride assembly on February 15th. Colors of Pride is an annual celebration that highlights African American culture and is presented by the African American Awareness Club during Black History Month. This year’s show focuses on the Black diaspora.

“The Black diaspora…basically [shows] how the dispersion of African culture [has] impacted the world,” said Mr. Brendon Mostert, one of the three staff sponsors of the African American Awareness Club at NPHS.

African music, dance, and fashion will be showcased in this year’s program, and the program will be repeated from 7-8 pm on February 15 for parents, alumni, and the community.

The African American Awareness Club is also celebrating Black History Month by taking a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the African American Museum.

“We won a grant from the North Penn Education Foundation to go on this trip, and we are incredibly grateful and excited,” exclaimed African American Awareness Club officer, Yordanos Lemma.

Finally, the North Penn School District is holding its annual Black History Oratorical Competition this month, in which interested students in grades 3-12 perform a speech or poem from a renowned figure in Black History. The award presentation for this year’s competition will be held on February 23rd at 6 pm in the NPHS Auditorium.

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the role African Americans have played in American history.

“Ideally, Black History Month wouldn’t be needed because Black History is American History and should just be interwoven and talked about throughout, but I don’t think we’re all the way there yet,” explained Mostert.

It is also a time to specifically shine a light on issues throughout history that have been unique to the African American community. Mr. Steven Roberts, who sponsors the African American Awareness Club along with Mr. Mostert and Mr. Frey, sees it as an opportunity for discussion of such issues.

“I think that Black History Month is an opportunity for students and teachers to really dig into some of the issues of the past but also some of the current issues that you see today and try to figure out why things are the way that they are and how to find meaningful solutions for going forward,” said Mr. Roberts.

The inspiring African Americans that have had an immeasurable impact on American History, and even World History, are too numerous to count. Yordanos Lemma is particularly inspired by Angela Davis.

“Angela Davis inspires me in Black history; her work in the Black Panther Party and the Black Feminist movement is crucial because she is one of the most notable black feminists in history,” stated Lemma.

Lemma called out a book written by Angela Davis, “Women, Race, and Class,” as a powerful book that everyone should read. In the book, Davis emphasizes the struggle of African American women in facing a double challenge due to both their race and gender. Chinwekele Uzoije and Carina Laventure, also officers in the African American Awareness Club, are inspired by African American women in history as well. Laventure most admires Sojourner Truth.

“She was a fighter for the rights of black people and women. She went from being born into slavery and escaping with her infant to meeting President Abraham Lincoln for her work in the Civil War,” said Laventure.

Uzoije admires Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson, the three central characters in the movie, Hidden Figures.

“As a black woman who plans to go into STEM, which is a very male-dominated field, these women have shown me that I can overcome any challenges that life may throw my way,” said Uzoije.

Mr. Mostert also finds inspiration in a person in African American history who faced a double challenge.

“Bayard Rustin is a civil rights leader who does not get enough attention for his planning of the civil rights movement. At the same time, he was out as a gay man, so he had to deal with that struggle on top of [the race struggles],” said Mostert.

February is a month that spotlights people in American history who had the courage to speak up for and fight for what is right, to challenge unfair laws and practices, and to persist in the struggle to change attitudes about race. Many of these people did so at great risk to their freedom, and in many cases, their lives. It is also a good time for all of us, regardless of race, to reflect on the efforts and achievements of those people and what we can learn from them.