Since 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated every February across the U.S. During this month, many Berkeley High School teachers cover topics related to Black history in the country.
Dawn Williams, co-chair of the African Studies Department, as well as a teacher for both Spanish in the African Diaspora and African Diaspora Dance, shared how she covers Black history in her classes throughout the year.
“In our (dance) class, we’re learning about Black history all year long. So it’s not just February, we just have performances at a higher rate,” said Williams.
She also talked about her Spanish class.
“I get different facts every day, and at the end of the month we do this big Kahoot game and the winner gets a gift certificate to a Black business with cupcakes,” said Williams.
Spencer Pritchard, who teaches and co-chairs the African American Studies department, also said that he teaches Black history throughout the year.
“Since I teach Black history every day throughout the year, we keep doing what we have been doing throughout the year,” said Pritchard. “In fact, we learn the history of (Black History Month) at the beginning of the school year when we learn about Carter G. Woodson and his impact on education within the Black community. We do have department-wide events where we celebrate the month that my classes do attend.”
Armana Aradom, Black Student Union (BSU) co-president, said the club plans to spread awareness around Black history through bulletin announcements. “This year, (the BSU) is planning to appear on the bulletin three times a week to shine light on the unsung Black heroes and pioneers of our nation,” said Aradom. “We hope these school-wide announcements will educate our peers on the positive global impact of Black Americans and change the narrative of what it means to be Black.”
Spencer Pritchard talked about why it’s important for teachers to add Black history into their curriculum. “Black History Month is a great opportunity for people to learn about Black history, especially those who don’t think about Black history much throughout the other 11 months of the year,” said Pritchard. “Studying the history and culture of African Americans, whether you identify as that or not, is empowering and provides you a richer sense of where we have been, how we are all connected, and how we can address many issues that plague our communities today.”
However, Black history has been often limited to the month of February, instead of being included in the curriculum year-round.
“Since elementary school, my Black history lessons have only been taught in the month of February,” said Aradom. “Although I’m grateful for these teachings, it never sat right with me that we only spend a maximum of 29 days a year reflecting on Black history in our general curriculums. Improving education around Black history can be done by making Black history something that’s celebrated year-round; we don’t have to concentrate all of our learning in February.”
Williams emphasized the importance of acknowledging Black history as part of American history.
“Just acknowledging that Black history is American history, that it’s important to do something to acknowledge the accomplishments and attributions of Black people in this country,” said Williams.