Black history engenders pride  

International roots of African American culture are emphasized at Roose


Photo by Janiyah Lozada

Natural hair and African prints were styling in Friday’s Black History Month fashion show, which capped off Spirit Week.

Tamar Coon, News Editor

Black History Month gives all people the opportunity to understand Black history beyond the stories of racism and slavery. This month showcases the achievements of Black people, showing how far Blacks have come and how far is still left to go.  Roosevelt highlighted the global aspect of African American culture.

“I often see Black culture as a product of the Black experience, which to me is a world experience,” 12th-grade English teacher Nkenge Cunningham said Cunningham helped plan and organize the events for last week’s BHM Spirit Week (February 14 to February 18). “Events chosen were designed to reach our community in several ways.”  

The show of Pan-African colors started the unity theme on Monday. There was also a school wide Do Now: “what is black love.” During lunch in the cafeteria there would be a blast to the past music trivia.  

On Tuesday participants were invited to represent an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). As said by, HBCUs were established to provide Black youth, who were prevented, due to racial discrimination, from attending established colleges and universities. These colleges and universities gave Black students the route to higher education during the time of segregation.  

“Whole group events at lunch would help raise the spirits of celebration and community,” Cunningham said.  

During both lunches on Wednesday there was a poetry slam. Additionally, it was Rep-the-Culture day, where students and staff wear up-lifting words or images of Blackness. Wearing t-shirts that have uplifting words or that show the Black culture is a true representation of celebrated Black History month. Throughout history Black folk found a way to make the struggles a little easier using music, poetry, religion, etc. Black expression came through in forms such as jazz, negro spirituals, poetry and writing.  

Nina Simone, Etta James, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington are just a few of Black singers who contributed to this country’s musical heritage. Poems and other forms of writing were conducted during these trying times. People like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Nella Larsen, Maya Angelou, and so many more have inspired many Black youth to keep fighting. When Black people encourage one another, it helps with the pain and the tolerance of the fight that goes on.  

“In every event, students, teachers, and guests will bring their authentic selves to the discussions, events, and activities. We are living Black History” Cunningham said. 

The achievements of Black are present every day in America from non-segregated schools, to shared spaces with white people. Change-makers such as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and countless others made progress for future generations so that they could begin to experience equality. Even though there were some changes made, Black people still struggle with some of the same issues that these change-makers faced.  

During the Covid-19 crisis, the world had a horrific view of that struggle. Although Black people have fallen victim to police brutality, the murder of George Floyd sparked international protest throughout the summer of 2020. This created a popular outcry for change within the United States. In the midst of the protest, there was a presidential election that shook the country. As a candidate, Joe Mr. Biden expressed deep sorrow for what has happened and ensured that he would make change, gaining the vote of many Black people and the election. Bidens’s opponent, Donald Trump still refuses to accept his loss. His supporters violently broke into the Capitol carrying Confederate flags and trying to halt the peaceful transfer of power in January, 2021.  

Cunningham hoped to set up group conversations during the week. “Village discussion events were chosen to have some intellectual discussion within small groups to expose students to new ideas and perspectives and allow them to share out,” Cunningham said. “I think students want to participate more since they have been away from each other for so long.” 

Thursday was culture day, when participants could wear flags and traditional dress from their cultures. There was a Jollof rice contest for teachers only and an IA village discussion about colorism. Colorism is the practice of discrimination where people with lighter skin are treated more favorably than those with darker skin. This practice upholds the white standards of beauty and benefits white people in the institutions of oppression. 

Before the civil war, dark-skinned enslaved people worked in harsh conditions in the field, while those with lighter skin color were more often assigned to domestic tasks.  

But African American culture is rooted in Africa, and this international connection is something Cunningham included in the week’s activities. “To study Black history is to study world history because Black people constitute the majority on a global scale, and many cultures are unified through Africanity being the source of it all,” Cunningham said. 

Jollof rice, for example, originated from Senegal, a West African country. Black culture is also known for all kinds of specialty foods.

Fashion that started long ago and far away in Africa looked fresh as ever at Friday’s lunch-time fashion show. (Photo by Janiyah Lozada)

Friday’s fashion show occurring during both lunches showcased a wide variety of African prints and clothing styles. It was a day to wear all black to show that “black is beautiful.” There was also a school-wide Black film day.  

These planned Black History Month events show students where they come from and encourage embracing one’s roots. Spirit week exists for students and staff to express themselves. Black history month is about love and acceptance of skin in every variety. Marcus Garvey said, “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”