This year, the Berkeley High School (BHS) Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) is giving students an amazing new way to interact with Black History Month: the Black History Month Art Contest. Open to all students, the contest features five different categories of art: photography and digital art, visual art, poetry, music, and performance art (dance, spoken word, etc.). Students can submit a single work in each of as many categories as they like to vie for cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25 for first, second, and third place rankings, though you can win only one prize, regardless of submissions. Voting is open to all students, and will begin on February 22 and end on February 25, with winners being announced the next day. Submissions will be posted as they are received on the PTSA website, and on the PTSA instagram, @PTSA.BHS.
The organizers of the contest hope to provide an avenue for all students to actively participate in and contribute to Black History Month. Lauri Loving, vice president of communication on the PTSA, is the lead student organizer of the contest. She said, “We wanted something where we felt like students had something fun to add … we thought an art contest would be a fun way for people to be able to express themselves.”
Addressing the importance of Black History Month, Suhera Nuru, president of the PTSA, said, “It’s a way to celebrate the people in history that have lost their lives due to the struggle that Black people face, and also celebrate the people who have done incredible things to make the world such a better place … to recognize the Black heroes in history that have made a really big significance in the way we live right now.”
Loving added, “As a Black woman, it’s definitely a time where we get to see the people who are underrepresented in our history … so much of American history is centered around Black people, especially since it was built off of slavery, but not much of it is spoken about. So it’s a very important time for all people just to learn about important factors that aren’t always talked about.”“The ultimate goal of anything we [the PTSA] hold is to get student participation. Considering everything that’s going on right now, all of the negatives that are happening, there are also positives like this art contest; you get to see so many students who interpret art in different ways, whether it’s poetry, visual arts, and everything. So it’s really just a way for people to express themselves and also to celebrate such a wonderful month celebrating Black people,” Nuru said.
Loving and Nuru emphasized that the contest is for all students, not just those who identify as Black. To them it’s about collaboration and finding unity among all people. This reminds all of us that US history is Black history, and that everyone must take the time to honor it. Make sure to check out all of the wonderful submissions on the PTSA website.