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Centering Black Joy in Black History

This is one of my favorite times of year.

It’s this time when the voices of my beautiful, brilliant Black people are amplified and celebrated. This, by the way, should really happen year-round. But, every year, like clockwork, teachers across the country are preparing their “February lesson.” Lessons, explaining the contributions of Black men and women in the fields of science, the arts, entertainment, politics, and literature. Many lessons will shine a spotlight on ways African Americans persevered to find success in their various fields.

Note to teachers everywhere… This is an archaic perspective, and I implore you to rethink your plan while you still have time. Allow the spirit and strength that has centered Black experiences since the beginning of time to be the true storytellers. That time...dates to the beginning of man.

Take this explicit opportunity to center your lessons on the joy, happiness, and intersectional accomplishments that support the positive self-image, and the uplifting of voices of yesterday and today. These same voices empower and inspire the very children sitting in your classrooms. Yes, we are thankful for the contributions made by Madam CJ Walker, Barbara Jordan, Charles Drew, and Mary Mcloud Bethune. We thank our heroines and their voices and brilliance will forever deserve our gratitude. That being said, there are scientists, artists, politicians, and activists who have taken the torch and are blazing paths that are creating history as we speak. Use these lessons as an opportunity to spark genius.

Engage your students in ways that help them learn more about themselves, make connections, learn new skills, and experience rigor while being immersed in Black brilliance. Allow your students to learn with an intentional focus on the power of intersectionality, pride, and joy.

Please join me on Thursday, January 28 at 4 pm to discuss what it means and how to Center Black Joy while teaching Black History.

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