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Celebrating Black Excellence and Opportunity

By Jennifer Fogarty, communications content manager
LJCDS celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community. 
This year’s Black History Month theme at LJCDS, Black Excellence and Opportunity, was created by members of the Black Student Union to emphasize the importance of uplifting the Black spirit and experience while centering the need for healing and justice as a community. 

Sade Adeniran ’21 and Jeramiah Woods ’21 formed the first Black Student Union (BSU) of La Jolla Country Day School in fall 2020 to offer a safe space of empowerment and intellectual freedom for Black students who attend LJCDS. BSU, along with the parent-led group, Families Supporting Inclusion and Diversity (FSID), helped create events for the whole community to deepen the understanding of Black and Indigenous citizens’ historical, present and future contributions. FSID is a group of LJCDS parents/guardians of children who identify as Black, African American, Afro-European and Afro-Caribbean. 

Highlights from the month-long celebration include:

Author Visit — Black Is a Rainbow Color 
Angela Joy, author of Black Is a Rainbow Color, virtually visited students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She read her book—a joyful, moving story that celebrates Black culture—and discussed Black culture through the illustrations in the book. She encouraged Lower School students to shine bright like a rainbow and move with “dignity, purpose, kindness and inclusivity” to make the world a better place.

Culturally Responsive Parent/Guardian Book Club
Parents/guardians joined for a discussion on The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, by Alicia Garza, February’s book selection. The book club discussions are centered on the school’s values and aspirations and how the community will hold one another accountable to enhance the work of diversity, equity and inclusivity. 

Art + History — Black History Month Posters
Students in Black Student Union, graphic design and AP Government collaborated to create the 2021 Black History Month posters that are displayed throughout campus. 

Black Consciousness and Culture Book List 
The LJCDS library created a book list for 2020–2021 as a part of the Black Consciousness and Culture educational programming. This is not an exhaustive or required reading list but rather a starting point to explore the many books of all genres and levels that celebrate Black consciousness and culture. 

Speaker Series
Fulton Leroy Washington shared his story of serving 21 years in prison for a non-violent drug conviction—a crime he didn’t commit—before President Barack Obama commuted his sentence and granted him clemency. While in prison, he took up drawing and then painting, and now his art is displayed at The Huntington and Hammer Museum.

Virtual Spoken Word/Open Mic
Master of Ceremonies Gill Sotu facilitated the second annual Spoken Word/Open Mic. Students as young as kindergarten, a recent alumna and special guest artists performed both original and familiar works. It was an evening of culture, kinship and discourse. Spoken Word is a poetic performance and can encompass rap, hip hop, storytelling, theater, jazz, rock, blues and folk music. 

Social Justice Summit 
The Social Justice Summit for Middle School (on February 24) and Upper School (on February 26) features a panelist of community leaders who represent Black excellence who spoke about the power of activism and transformative change through the lenses of their positions. The powerful panelist list includes:  
  • Dr. Shirley N. Weber, California Secretary of State; 
  • Honorable Randa Trapp, San Diego County Superior Court; 
  • Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe (San Diego City Council, District 4);
  • Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego NAACP; 
  • Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, neuroscience researcher;
  • LaShae Collins, president, Association of African American Educators, San Diego. 


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