Bringing Black History to Highland Park Elementary

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photo courtesy of BSU

On Thursday, March 25th, Highland Park Senior High Black Student Union (BSU) members took a field trip to Highland Elementary School. While at Highland Elementary, BSU members visited a fourth grade class. There, BSU had an interactive presentation on Black History and black culture. The presentation covered a wide array of things.

The presentation started off with an with an overview of Black History taught in school. BSU asked the fourth graders about what they knew about Black History, and also what they’ve learned in school so far. Most of the responses were connected to the Civil Rights Movement.

There were answers such as “Martin Luther King Jr.”, “Whites had different water fountains”, and “Black people were mistreated”. However, there were also answers like “Fetty Wap”, “Michael Jackson”, and even “The Italo-Ethiopian War”.

BSU wanted to know what the fourth graders knew about Black History because the members of BSU don’t recall learning much about Black History in Elementary School, besides some key events in the Civil Rights Movement.

The presentation touched on how history is usually taught from a Eurocentric perspective, and that African or African American History is usually taught in elective classes. BSU explained that there should be more Black History taught in schools, especially Elementary Schools, because that is a prime learning time for students.

The presentation then talked about what BSU meant, and what its purpose was. “We want to help people understand their privilege, and provide voices for students of color,” BSU stated. ” We also want to help educate people about Black History and common misconceptions, and also help end the disenfranchisement of Black people”. The fourth graders looked severely confused at the use of these big words, so BSU explained their purpose again on a fourth grade level.

The presentation lastly talked about people in Black History that aren’t as commonly recognized and honored as “Martin Luther King Jr.”, or even “Fetty Wap”. These people were Daisy Bates, Kimberle Crenshaw Williams, and Grace Jones. BSU talked about how each of these people helped shaped Black History in their own way.

After the presentation, BSU asked the students to do one more thing.

The students were put into groups and asked to go to a specific table with a sheet of poster paper and markers on it. There, the fourth graders were asked to write “Black is…”. Then the students had total freedom to finish the statement however they wanted to. The answers were both meaningful and funny.

Some of the keywords that often showed up in the posters were “beautiful”, “a skin color”, “peaceful”, “nice”, and “awesome”. However, the fourth graders also wrote “the best culture”, “Daisy Bates”, “whatever the black people want to be”, and also “the most amazing people I know”. 

BSU encouraged the young students to reach their full potential, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or color of their skin. They also taught the fourth graders to value their cultures, and value others as well, especially ones that are suppressed and commonly misconceived.

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photo courtesy of BSU

Hopefully, one day, these students will be the faces of BSU at Highland Park Senior High.

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