Recapping Black History Month, activities, media center collaboration

Delaney O, Editor in Chief

In honor of Black History Month this year, the Black Student Association (BSA) and the media center planned events and activities to nurture this year’s theme: Black Health and Awareness.

Some of the many activities and events included quests, book displays, informational resources, guest speakers, documentary screenings, an end of month celebration in the auditorium, and more.

According to media center specialist Gwen Kuhns and the BSA adviser Hope Mezo, they tried to provide information celebrating the many accomplishments of Black Americans.

BSA hosted their third annual Black History Month Showcase on Friday, Feb. 25, celebrating Black history through song, dance, and poetry. Many presenters were showcased, including two step teams, a concert choir, an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority representative, business owner Kim White from Cakes and Cups, and South’s very own BSA.

Mezo said she was excited for Black History Month and the BSA showcase this year.

“It’s nice to celebrate and see something positive about Black history and our culture,” Mezo said.

According to Mezo, a lot of impactful events this month were just BSA members having conversations. At the Thursday meetings, BSA hosted numerous speakers to discuss topics ranging from leadership to coping with today’s microaggressions and microinvalidations that some students experience in and out of the building.

“My favorite activity is the [BSA] meetings because that is where we come together and talk about topics that aren’t ever really acknowledged in a classroom or with a teacher,” said senior Markus Tucker, member of BSA.

One of the most notable speakers, according to Mezo, was Sherri Bevel, PhD, who talked about meeting Doctor King and how her family witnessed tragic events surrounding his assassination. Bevel, co-founder & curriculum development specialist at Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training, currently lives in Chicago. She spoke with students about leadership opportunities and different fields to pursue post high school.

“[Bevel] talked to [our students] about the way that they can go into different careers and different fields such as art, technology, education and law and still feel like they are contributing to the Black community,” Mezo said. “She really shed light that you can do anything and contribute to your community.”

Kalya Dunn, senior BSA member, said her favorite activity this year was exploration night.

“[We got to] meet BSA prospects who will be able to grow this club more than it already has these past three years,” Dunn said.
The media center also pulled numerous books near the front of the library for students to read.

“We [had] a display of books by Black authors and a display case outside lab 130 of Jahkil Jackson,” Kuhns said. Jackson, a Chicago native, is an author and activist-entrepreneur who started the Project I Am when he was 8 years old. The project focuses on making life easier for the homeless.

The media center planned to screen a documentary about Barack Obama in the library on Feb. 17, but it was moved to March 10 due to the district’s snow day.

“[The documentary] is called Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, and it’s a pre-release showing; it will come out on HBO over the summer,” Kuhns said.

Kuhn’s launched a Black History Month online quest in the beginning of February where students and teachers could participate in five interactive websites to unscramble messages for a chance to win prizes, including books, Cougar gear, gift cards, and more.

Media center quests are typically in person and organized in the library itself, but due to changes in library procedures this semester, Kuhns still wanted to find a way for students to interact with this month’s theme.

“I always want kids in the library. I think it’s a great place and a safe place for lots of different populations who inhabit Plainfield South,” Kuhns said. The last day to enter the Black History Month quest was March 3. Prize winners will be revealed in early March.

For Dunn, the month of February is not just about learning but about acknowledging past mistakes.

“[We need to make] sure [those mistakes] never happen again in the present while [we] also prepare our future generations for a more diverse yet unified country,” Dunn said.
According to members of BSA, the themes of Black History Month do not end in February. Mezo hopes the lessons learned carry into the culture and climate of this community.

“I want better for the youth of today than I had,” Mezo said. “I think about the stories and experiences my grandmother went through in the 40s and the 50s. There are so many of those similar experiences that my mother’s generation went through and that I went through, and unfortunately, there are still a lot of those same situations that kids today go through. I would like to see that change.”

The BSA continues to host meetings every other Thursday in 430 after school. Mezo said the meetings welcome all staff and students who wish to attend.