Within the walls of Niles North, communities of all types coexisting as an inclusive environment is emulated through the student and staff population. During the month of February, the school joins together to reflect and celebrate the innovative contributions of its African American community.

The origins of Black History Month are traced back to the 1920’s when Carter G. Woodson, historian, observed the second week of February as “Negro History Week” in accordance with Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. In 1976, the month of February was officially recognized as Black History Month with the support of President Gerald Ford.

To the various communities cohabiting this nation, Black History Month is a time for recognizing the progress people of color have made for the betterment of the country. It is a time to learn about the accomplishments of inventors and innovators who are not always discussed in standard textbooks.

“Although February happens to be the shortest month of the year, it surely doesn’t reflect the positive contributions made by African Americans in this nation,” Keith Robinson, vice principal, said.

In relation to the current political and social climate, Black History Month serves as a needed reminder of the endless possibilities that await future generations regardless of racial divides. To combat the offensive language perpetuating negative images and narratives associated with African Americans, this month serves as a beacon of hope highlighting the true potential of the community.

“I love taking pause to honor and celebrate those stories and positive images with everyone, especially those who are never taught that people who look like them can achieve greatness in all talents and industry,” Robinson added.

Although this month is meant to embody optimistic ideals, it can also be viewed as a dark reminder of the fact that African Americans are still not valued for their intellect and passion in this society. Having the need to set aside one particular month instead of incorporating stories of people of color into everyday lessons exhibits the prominence of racial differences that still inherently exist.

Despite this other belief, this school community continues to strive toward recognizing the talents of its students and staff regardless of arbitrary societal categories. The Black Student Union (BSU) seeks to act as a gateway confronting any negative stereotypes which lend to creating racist sentiment.

“Black history month should not only serve as a reminder to the many contributions made by African Americans to art, literature, politics, and intellectualism, but as a continued source of inspiration to continue to confront and eradicate racism in all of its forms,” James Edwards, principal, said.

Although February draws to an end, the contributions made by the African American community will continue to live on through the actions and words of Niles North staff and students.

Featured image credits to Phenderson Clark.