Students at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford dedicated the most recent school-wide meeting to a celebration of Black History Month.
Submitted by Maureen Scudder, Northwest Catholic High School
Every week the Northwest Catholic community gathers for a school-wide meeting, or convocation. This week’s convocation was dedicated to Black History Month.
Kelci-Brooke Goodison, a junior from West Hartford, and Sam Deveau, a senior from Bloomfield, welcomed the student body, their teachers, and eighth grade shadow students to the special convocation. Students led the prayer and gave a brief history of the origins of Black History Month.
Justin Tavares, a sophomore from New Hartford, shared remarks about the importance of Black History Month, and Shirley Love, a senior from Hartford, read Margaret Walker’s poem “For My People.” The audience watched a brief video of New Haven artist’s Titus Kapher’s painting of Ferguson protesters, as the school is placing special focus on the intersection of politics and culture in the struggle to end racism.
The heart of Monday’s convocation beat in the keynote delivered by Evan Thompson, a junior from Bloomfield. Thompson asked the audience to “recognize the many great gifts African Americans have brought to our nation.” He asked the listeners to reflect on names with him – names like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Nikki Giovanni, W.E.B. Dubois, and Rosa Parks. He asked the essential question: “How different would our country be without these leaders and the myriad of others who fought for civil rights?” Then he answered it for his audience, in case there was any doubt: “These people have helped us learn what strength is, what perseverance is. They broke down barriers, they stood against injustice, they helped us pull together as a nation and overcome our darkest days.”
Thompson highlighted the contributions of African Americans in every arena, including the arts, which was highlighted in other ways through Northwest Catholic’s month-long celebration.
Thompson confronted the most pressing realization his audience needed to face: “that it has simply not been that long since black Americans were legally excluded from so many aspects of American life.”
He spoke directly to his peers when he said, “For the young people here, I know it seems like ancient history, but for some people who are a lot older, many have seen how much life has changed for African Americans even in the past few decades.”
Thompson ended with a call to action with, first, the essential question, “Which side of history will you stand on?” And he concluded with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Then, with honesty and earnestness, Thompson asked Northwest Catholic to be the light that drives out darkness.
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