Feb. 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month, and Park Tudor’s Black Student Union (BSU) decided to start the month off with a club meeting in the Lecture Hall with snacks, drinks, games, and a film titled “You Love Me.”
Sophomore BSU member Newell Dodoh sees Black History Month as “a dedicated time to acknowledge the importance of Black individuals as, many times, the contributions of these Black individuals are overlooked in our everyday culture, life, and society.”
When honoring these contributions, however, senior co-president Alyssa Gaines encourages fellow students to keep three things in mind.
1. Black history is a dynamic structure that continues to grow and retain relevance today.
While it may be easy to compartmentalize Black history and its relevance into its own completed chapter from the past, Gaines views it as a dynamic, continuous struggle for equality and journey towards a better future.
“It’s not frozen in time and something that happened in the past that we get to open our history books and relearn now that it’s February,” she said. “It’s something that is alive and continuing. Not only is Black history what happened in the past, but it’s also our present – it’s also our future.”
2. Spreading awareness is an interpersonal task.
She encourages individuals to venture beyond spreading awareness from behind one’s phone screen, such as reposting infographics through social media, by actively engaging in interpersonal interactions, especially with people in the Park Tudor community. This can include simply asking them questions.
However one chooses to spread awareness, Gaines would like to see the same effort sustain itself throughout the year.
3. February is not the only month to learn and celebrate Black history.
Gaines believes the purpose of having Black History Month is “for carving out a very intentional time to honor the contributions of Black Americans.”
Just as important is extending this intentional effort and carrying this new knowledge into the rest of the year, continuing to spread awareness and support the community.
Throughout the rest of February, the BSU hopes to plan more events that involve the student body, like the cookout it hosted earlier in the year.
“For me, the BSU has been a place to make this gathering concrete and honor and respect this community that has been built and nurtured over the years at Park Tudor, across grades,” Gaines said about her experience in the club, which she feels created “space and time to celebrate that, to get to know your other Black students, and to collectively mobilize for our advancement at the school.”
For the BSU, this gathering is not limited to weekly club meetings after school in the Lecture Hall.
“In the hallway, in the lunchroom, in the wood room, we – the Black students at Park Tudor – gather together because we recognize this distinct physical kinship and also shared experiences,” she said.
The club continues to gather together old and new members each year from seniors like Gaines, who has been a member for four years, to freshmen, who bring and share different experiences.
“There is so much in looking to the future and younger generations,” Gaines said. One thing her leadership role has taught her is “not only recognizing what I can teach [the freshmen] from my experience but looking to see what I can learn from them as well.”