I have a weird relationship with “fill-in-the-blank” history months. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the relationship is love/hate, it’s more like somewhat appreciate/marginally dissatisfied by (doesn’t quite have the same ring).
Back to the point, I actually like any excuse to ask students to pay attention to cultural and social diversity, but it sometimes feels a little shallow to relegate these attentions to one particular month. Like, “Ok, February’s over, forget Langston, we’re movin’ on to the ladies!” I know it’s not that simple, but it still gets under my skin.
I haven’t figured out a way to deal with this uneasiness, so in the meantime, I put up this display in honor of Black History Month.
My main objectives were to get students to think about how their current lives were affected by the people who came and worked and struggled and suffered and shined before them, in addition to wanting to encourage everyone to connect to these people, regardless of the color of their skin. I don’t like the thought that only African Americans would be interested in/take pride in these amazing lives. We can all connect to and take pride in because there may be something beyond skin color that joins us with these people (a love for music, an unwillingness to accept discrimination, a passion for writing, a bravery that tells you to stand up to the status quo, things like that).
Those were my hopes when I constructed this. I also wanted everyone to know these lives, like their own lives, were simultaneously important and regular and painful and confusing and ebullient. That’s a little harder to get across though.