Black History Month, or African American History Month, began as a weeklong celebration in 1926. Since the 1890s, Black communities have celebrated the birthdays of two people considered to have a big impact on Black history in the US: Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). Fifty years later, the weeklong celebration became a month long and has been recognized by presidential proclamation every year since. This historical perspective was shared with the student body by Ms. Tamisha Chestnut, our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Ms. Chestnut was among those featured in the March 914 Inc. issue on DEI and how organizations in our area work to ensure equal access to success. We invite you to download the article Here.
We are pleased to share some of the classroom projects and activities at Ursuline during February 2022 that highlighted the accomplishments and honored the experiences in the Black community.
Our 8th Grade Religion Studies classes researched six Black American Catholics who are on the path to sainthood. Students presented a biography including the contribution each has made to society and Black history during their lives. They learned about Pierre Toussaint, Sr. Henriette Delille, S.S.F., Fr. Augustus Tolton, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Lange, O.S.P., Julia Greeley, and Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.
In a collaborative project between the Social Studies and English classes, the 8th grade formed teams to create presentations on prominent figures in Black history. Each group created a visual display with information learned during the research process and presented their work to the 6th and 7th grades. The younger students had prepared questions about each of the displays.
Meanwhile, in the high school curriculum, students in Spanish 4H read and studied Sensemaya, a poem written by Afro-Cuban poet, Nicolas Guillen. Sensemaya represents the fusion of two cultures, African and Cuban, and their rituals and traditions. Since Sensemaya focuses on the fear of a deadly snake, students spent time writing a poem in Spanish about an animal they fear.
Music students learned about Margaret Bonds, an American composer, pianist, and teacher in New York City. She became involved in the Harlem Renaissance artistic movement, working to advance Black musicians and composers. Her 1965 Montgomery Variations for orchestra was inspired by the “March on Montgomery” led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.