February is Black History Month, a month where people gather to celebrate the accomplishments of black people throughout history and learn more about achieving equal rights. MacDuffie has its own way of celebrating this important month. Interim Dean of Students Zachary Hensley shared some of his insights about the preparation, presentation, and reasons behind why MacDuffie celebrates Black History Month.
There’s more than you might think that goes into Black History Month recognition and celebration at MacDuffie; students and teachers alike work hard to make everything come together. Hensley explained that teachers reach out each year and help the month go well.
“There’s only so much you can talk about on a big stage,” he says. “It is important to allow teachers to bring what we are learning into the classroom setting.”
Along with teachers, many students support Black History Month. Hensley explained that when students present, this brings variety to presentations, and causes the experience to be more memorable for the presenter themselves. At MacDuffie specifically, because the student population is about 50/50 American and International, the messages of Black History Month resonate strongly with the American students, providing them with an opportunity to share their national history and culture with the international students. Hensley explained, “It is an important thing to share…about the American experience with our international students.”
One of the main groups that volunteered to be involved in the observation of Black History Month this year was The Muse, the school’s Literary Magazine. A member of The Muse has read a different poem by a black poet every assembly to help students experience awareness in a new way. Hensley believes poetry can have great impact.
“Poetry has a unique power…of making you feel,” he says, “and that builds understanding.”
He comments that while we cannot identify with the exact perspective of each poet, what they say can help us bridge the empathy gap. Poetry allows us to learn with our hearts rather than minds. When students can learn both ways in a presentation, Hensley hopes that they will remember the messages from Black History Month all throughout the year.
Junior Sophia Sharp, Editor in Chief of The Muse also shared her insights. She expressed similar views to Hensley, and remarks that poetry is an “empowering form of expression” and portrays the emotions of a poet, which can be interpreted differently to each person. This makes poetry more personal. Sharp also explains the reasons why The Muse chose to represent Black History Month this year. She says, “it is important to me that The Muse brings awareness to and honors the work of black poets during Black History Month by reading their poems as a form of recognition and appreciation.”
Black History Month is an important month for all. It is a way to learn about the past, make more changes towards equality in the future, and a way of appreciating the contributions of black people throughout American history. It is also a way of teaching our MacDuffie community about appreciating all members of society, and to honor and celebrate diversity. Race is still a very real problem today, but by celebrating history of African Americans The MacDuffie School makes another step towards equality.