Black History Month began in 1926 as part of an initiative by writer and educator Dr. Carter G. Woodson who launched Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson proclaimed that Negro History Week should always occur in the second week of February —between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the bicentennial of the United States, President Gerald R. Ford expanded what was once known as Negro History Week into a full month. He said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Some controversy remains about the limitations of setting aside one month to celebrate a particular race that added to the story of the United States, but doing so can be particularly important for schools in places like Marin County, CA. A recent study published by the Association of Bay Area Governments cites three Marin County cities as some of the least diverse communities in the Bay Area. While Novato was ranked 2nd most diverse in Marin County, just behind San Rafael for variety in race and culture among students, Pleasant Valley and all NUSD schools look for opportunities to adequately celebrate the contributions that black Americans have made to our country, state and county. Our goal is to provide a true and complete understanding of American history, both positive achievements as well as the grave mistakes that were made in hopes that future generations learn from the past and find strength in the stories of those who overcame ill treatment. By doing so we aim to cultivate an environment of personal responsibility, inclusivity, mutual respect, and empathy to ensure that every person feels welcomed, valued, and respected.
Last year, the evening of February 12th, 2019 the Novato School Board adopted Resolution 21 which officially designates February as African American History Month at all NUSD schools, encouraging teachers to collaborate on ways to celebrate black history in classrooms through lessons and special events.
Looking to plug in to Black History Month yourself? Our local PBS station has an extensive line-up of programs to interest everyone.
Or, you may have an idea for celebrating Black History at Pleasant Valley. Those interested in helping teachers in this area, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.
Meanwhile, several good resources are available online to spark conversation with your child, including this informative video from some talented 1st graders. Enjoy.