Celebrating Past February

Our school’s successes —­­ and failures — in honoring Black History Month


Photo: Hermona Hadush (Courtesy)

Four of the UPrep BSU leaders posing for a Zoom meeting picture.

With the University Prep community and the rest of the world still impacted by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, Black History Month provides a time for the UPrep community to learn, honor, and celebrate Black culture and accomplishments.
“Black History Month is a chance for us to celebrate and acknowledge our kings and queens that have come before us that paved the way,” said James Johnson, PE teacher and varsity boys basketball coach. “[Black History Month is meant] to pay homage to those people and celebrate those people… it gives other identities and ethnicities a window into our culture and what we’ve done in the past.”
Along with celebrating the many accomplishments of Black people throughout history, junior and leader of UPrep’s Black Student Union Hermona Hadush believes that during February, and throughout the whole year, UPrep should be doing more to raise awareness.
“A lot of harsh events have been happening for years and years, but I think this year a lot of light was shined on them and it has caused people to pay attention,” Hadush said. “For this Black History Month, learning more is such an important thing, and there are [a lot of] information and resources out there, and it’s especially important to take initiative with that.”
Due to its predominantly white student body, UPrep is trying to do its part to raise awareness within its community by amplifying its Black voices.
“One thing that [UPrep] has done well is giving BSU and affinity groups the opportunity to take lead in things like this. Many faculty and staff are aware of what’s going on and [are] spreading awareness,” Hadush said.
Despite the push for awareness in the past few years, Associate Director of Global Programs and BSU faculty adviser Christina Taylor believes that there is still room for improvement.

Everybody should be celebrated in the United States and we need to highlight that every single day.”

— James Johnson, PE Teacher and varsity basketball coach

“I don’t think Black students necessarily feel like University Prep is their community, so there’s still work to be done. But, there are efforts being made. They’re on the right path,” Taylor said.
Johnson also raised points about how the Black community at UPrep is tasked with celebrating Black History Month.
“There is sometimes a burden on the Black people within the community to perform something for Black History Month, and I don’t think [that burden] should always necessarily fall on their shoulders,” Johnson said.
Hadush also voiced her concerns about the expectations of the Black community to know everything about Black culture.
“There’s a huge misconception that people of a certain race know every little detail about it. So for me as a Black person, it’s a moment for me to learn more and take initiative to learn,” Hadush said.
Hadush also raised concerns about how Black History Month invites a lack of appreciation for the rest of the year.
“It’s a good thing to highlight Black culture and history, but it can cause people to use it as an excuse to only celebrate it for a short period of time, and then stop caring about it,” Hadush said.
Johnson echoed Hadush’s sentiment and encouraged the celebration of all cultures.
“We should do a better job every single day, not just for Black culture, but for Asian culture, for Latino culture. Everybody should be celebrated in the United States and we need to highlight that every single day,” Johnson said.