Black History Month in Education

Black History Month was a resounding success for the Education Committee. Work Sessions were invigorating for committee members, and each event was exciting and engaging for those who participated. Through excellent collaboration and hard work from everyone involved, the Education Committee furthered its aims by holding two community events per week. These events made space for ASD students and their parents to engage with one another, build community, and build confidence in their abilities. Every conversation emphasized the brilliance of Black and POC talent. Informative presentations and speakers introduced students to BIPOC leaders who are making changes today. While meeting and learning about these role models, students were encouraged to imagine themselves in similar roles. Above all, the students were encouraged to celebrate their own talents and abilities. 

Every Saturday morning the Education Committee hosts the Youth Reading Talent Extravaganza! Youth were invited to gather and display their reading skills and individual talents. Despite the inherent challenges of meeting over Zoom, they were wildly popular and well-attended. Attendees came from all corners of our community. There was no sign of shyness. Instead, the kids were thrilled to present their reading and talents in front of an audience. Each was given a turn to share their favorite books with the group while the others listened and gave encouragement. Many of them read books that celebrated being Black. Between the readings, they performed other talents. There were demonstrations of playing musical instruments, drawing, dance, and even gymnastics. The hour always ended with prizes and a queue of readers waiting to be continued the next week. Parents and adults Zoomed in to support the youth in record numbers. The online venue didn’t dampen anybody’s enthusiasm. In fact, holding these events over Zoom contributed to their success! By the end of February, the attendance had expanded to include kids and parents in the lower-48. 

Similarly, the BIPOC Student and Parent Voices Subcommittee made great progress in building a bold new generation of students. These weekly workshops were attended by middle school and high school students; teachers and principals; and a series of accomplished guest speakers. These local activists shared their stories, their motivations, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Students were also introduced to the structure of the Anchorage School District and its tiers of leadership. In the latest Work Session, participants shared their experiences and developed ideas for improving the ASD to better serve BIPOC students. 

The Alaska Black Caucus Education Committee selected Vanessa Wynn from among the BIPOC Student Voices for her consistent active participation to represent BIPOC students at the Dr. Etheldra Davis Formal Scholarship Gala. 

Moving forward into March, participants will be coached and practice public speaking skills that turn their ideas into compelling testimonies they can deliver before the School Board, Assembly and Policy Makers.