Throughout February, LJCDS celebrated the accomplishments of African Americans and the contributions they have made to American history.
The LJCDS Black Consciousness and Culture Parent Group and Educators formed to deepen cultural consciousness within the community. In honor of Black History Month, schoolwide events were hosted spanning all three divisions and in collaboration with the arts department. These events were conceptualized and curated under the leadership of the parent-led group.
“LJCDS parents and educators are focused on transformational change and are committed to a collective effort to cultivate deep roots of inclusivity at our school,” shares Cindy Santos Bravo, director of visual and performing arts. “Educators are always motivated to help their students, and what I have experienced is a unique collaboration between parents, educators and students to raise our commitment to dignity and diversity on a transformative level of consciousness.”
In a cross-divisional partnership, Upper Schoolers researched influential African Americans and their impact on the world and then designed posters for the Lower School. The Upper School students also created a study guide for Lower School educators to further discussions in their classrooms. Students participated in a gallery walk to celebrate the accomplishments throughout history and a scavenger hunt to explore the different posters around the community. They learned about Alice Ball, a scientist who developed the first treatment for leprosy and Matthew Alexander Henson, the first explorer to reach the north pole.
On a Friday evening in February, the community gathered together in the Four Flowers Theater for Spoken Word. Students in Lower, Middle and Upper School, faculty members, and guest performers shared powerful stories through song, dance and poetry reading. Topics ranged from segregation and being strong to family history and a first day of school reflection.
Multitalented master of ceremonies Santé Prince led the evening and engaged the audience between performances. Guest performers from the San Diego community and beyond included steppers from Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity; pharmacist, author and inspirational poetic speaker Doc Peace; beat boy AC Fresh; poet (and aunt of LJCDS students) Sara Cartwright; and the third-ranked poet in the world after competing in the Individual World Poetry Slam, Anita Dias.
In an assembly, the Os Malandros de Mestre Touro school in San Diego shared the history of Capoeira and treated students in each division to a performance. Performers ranged from 5 years old to senior citizens. Capoeira is a martial art that combines music with elements of acrobatics, dance, fighting and rituals. Enslaved Africans in Brazil invented the practice as a means of self-defense at the beginning of the 16th century. To cover their intent from their prisoners, they incorporated traditional music, singing and dancing. Capoeira has influenced dancing styles such as breakdancing and hip-hop and was featured in the movie Ocean’s Twelve.
Later in the month, Middle and Upper School students heard from Dr. Melba Patillo Beals, hosted by the Center for Excellence in Citizenship. Dr. Beals is a journalist and college educator who is widely known as a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American high school students who challenged racial segregation in the public schools of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. She shared why, despite being harassed and threatened, she returned to school every day to benefit from an education. When Dr. Beals felt like giving up, she recalled what Martin Luther King, Jr. told her, “You’re not doing this for yourself. You’re fighting for generations not yet born.” She also conducted a fireside chat with students and parents/guardians.
To round out the month, the school will host Art Talk and Dine for a discussion exploring Black resiliency, imagination and excellence from 1619 to today. Attendees will learn the impact of Black history on art-making with Manuelita Brown, professional artist, sculptor and mathematics teacher and Akiko Surai, a multi-disciplined artist, educator and writer.
Thank you to all the parent volunteers, students, faculty and staff who were involved in making Black History Month an inspiring and thought-provoking celebration. The LJCDS inclusive and collective spirit was evident through cross-divisional and departmental collaborations.