Upper school Black Student Union holds fundraiser celebrating Black History Month


Ananya Sriram

The Black History Month board in Main hallway is decorated with short biographies and pictures of various influential Black people from around the world in celebration of Black History Month. Notable Black people which the Black Student Union (BSU) included in the Student Diversity Coalition board range from athletes to actors to politicans.

by Ananya Sriram and Ariana Goetting

Members of Harker’s Black Student Union (BSU) celebrated Black History Month in February by selling desserts from local Black-owned businesses during long lunches outside of Manzanita to promote mental health awareness for African American communities. 

February marks the start of Black History Month, a time when the nation honors African American achievements and history. The origins of Black History month date back to 1915 when the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) started honoring African Americans for the month in honor of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Following the formation of the ASNLH, the annual honoring of African American achievements began in 1976, officially recognized by U.S. President Gerald Ford.

This year’s themes, Black health and wellness, celebrate African Americans’ contributions to science and medicine around the world while also advocating for improved healthcare and resources for underserved Black communities. 

“This year, considering the things that happened at the very beginning of quarantine with all the protests, rise of awareness and police brutality that has been happening against African Americans for a very long time. I’d say that it’s a month where we get a little bit more appreciation,” BSU co-president Brooklyn Cicero (12) said.

Goods sold during the BSU’s fundraiser included desserts such as homemade cheesecakes as well as goodie bags. The fundraiser marks the first time BSU has had an in-person celebration of Black History Month since its founding in the summer of 2020. All proceeds will help fund and promote accessibility of mental health resources and services for African Americans. 

“I know a lot of faculty, students and staff all have been buying a lot and have been saying it tastes really good, so it’s been going pretty well,” Brooklyn said. “I just hope that in the Harker community, because there aren’t many African Americans, that there’s a bit more self awareness for people [regarding Black History Month].”

The BSU also decorated the Student Diversity Coalition (SDC) board in Main with short biographies and pictures of various influential Black people from around the world in honor of Black History Month. Last year, the upper school celebrated Black History Month through a virtual assembly on Zoom during which University of Southern California (USC) Thornton School of Music Professor Dr. Ron McCurdy, who is African American, discussed jazz, the Harlem Renaissance and Black culture in entertainment. 

On Jan. 31, President Joe Biden, who is white, officially proclaimed the start of Black History Month, requesting librarians, public officials and the nation to honor African Americans as they have done every year. 

“Shining a light on Black history today is as important to understanding ourselves and growing stronger as a Nation as it has ever been,” Biden said during his speech. “That is why it is essential that we take time to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans, honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, reckon with centuries of injustice and confront those injustices that still fester today.”

Local businesses and organizations celebrated Black History Month via virtual and in-person events. The San Jose Public Library held various virtual events, including community conversations on Black speakers every Thursday at 1 p.m. and a local Black artists showcase on Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The exhibition showcased five Black artists, Christopher Adam Williams, Delgreta Brown, Paige Mason, Shani Williams and Aambr Newsome, from Northern California. The library also hosted a session on the scientific importance of fatherhood on a child’s well being in the Black community on Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Similarly, the Saratoga County History Center opened an exhibit in the Brookside Museum called “Black Experiences in Saratoga County, 1750-1950.”

“Since the city of San Jose is making such an effort to increase diversity and tolerance and equity and understanding, we hope that bringing in these different aspects and professionals to talk will better help others understand and reach out,” said San Jose Public Library librarian Eboni Harris, who is African American. “We’re also hoping that something about these programs will draw more Black Americans to this area or the library.”

Haley has also taken steps to incorporate Black history into her World History classes through historical journals and reflections and appreciates how she can educate and inform her students on social justice issues.

“Particularly in a private school, you just have a lot of freedom, a lot of autonomy, and that really allows me to bring up some of those topics that are not in the textbook per say,” Haley said. “You could bring in current events, you could talk about George Floyd, you could talk about social justice, you could talk about the death penalty and the demographics of who’s executed, people of color.”

There are plenty of resources, from movies to books to educational documentaries available to learn more about Black history. To support and honor the Black community, anyone can support Black-owned businesses, donate to charities that promote racial equality and learn about notable African American figures in history and Black contributions throughout history.