"Slave Day" Is Finally History, But GHS Is Still Apathetic About Black History Month

Focus of February at GHS is on Valentine's day, while Black History Month goes unmentioned

I first noticed it when I was a freshman.

At Greenwich High School February is associated with Valentine's day and winter break. There is no mention of Black History month whatsoever. So while the school is papered with hearts, this year I had enough. I decided to make my own posters and a banner that said "Happy Black History month."

I have to admit that in the past the media center has done a display of literature and artwork for Black History month. But this year they skipped it in favor of a display about Dating Violence awareness month. 

I've been working with the president of student government, Jonathan Muhlrad, who has been an outstanding collaborator. He has brainstormed ideas with me, including possibly arranging a speaker during diversity week that would dovetail with the end of black history month.

But the fact remains that so far this year there is still nothing. No events, no morning announcements, and no display in the media center.

This is not surprising. If you look back in the school's history, in 1971, there was a GHS event called "Slave Day". There are photos in the 1971 Compass yearbook of students dressed up in costumes and being auctioned off as "slaves" to their "masters."

Then, even more recently, in 1994, there was the infamous yearbook incident in which five male students coordinated their Compass yearbook quotes so that when they were strung  together they formed three words: "kill," "all," "ni," "gg," "ers," respectively.

I'm not blaming the current GHS comunity for "Slave Day" or the yearbook incident, but it is still part of our school's history and all the more reason that we should celebrate Black History Month.

Before I began my mission to force the school to celebrate Black History month, I approached the Director of Student Activities with my feelings. I told her the omission was not lost on me or other black students. Her response was that GHS had done plenty because the previous year  there was a poetry contest for Black History month.

In my opinion, the GHS community seems to feel like Black History month is just unnecessary, and that injustice, inequality and prejudice ended after the Civil Rights Movement. They haven't.

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Leslie Yager February 22, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Good for you for making your own posters, Alleyah. One person can make a difference. I remember the yearbook incident. My brokenhearted neighbor brought her yearbook home and showed me. One of those moments in time I remember exactly where I was standing.
Siwanoy February 22, 2013 at 05:24 PM
"Her response was that GHS had done plenty because the previous year there was a poetry contest for Black History month." I sure hope she's getting reviewed by her boss for something like that. Good job Alleyah
Vicki Camacho - Public Access Producer February 22, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas are smiling down on you. Ida B. Wells and W. E. B." Du Bois are proud of your passionate and honest writings. You go girl!
Jeffrey Bingham Mead February 23, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Alleyah, I am a descendant of the founders of Greenwich, a former board member at the Greenwich Historical Society -and here in Hawaii I head and co-founded History Education Hawaii, the official "council" of the National Council for History Education. Kudos to you for your efforts. I suggest you establish a partnership with the Historical Society and plan for next year. Your efforts and interest in history certainly have my endorsement. Go to the eastern side of Union Cemetery some time -there are African American civil war veterans interred there. There's much more. If there is anything I can do please ask. Cheers and aloha from Hawaii. Jeffrey Bingham Mead


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