School celebrates Black History Month

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    The Palo Alto High School library is displaying a series of books related to African American history, as well as a poster designed by Black Scholars United 2.0 Club that commemorates African American women in STEM. At BSU 2.0 Club, “Students get a space that’s safe for them to express some of the challenges of being a black student,” says adviser Letitia Burton. Photo: Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    Several Palo Alto High School clubs and the Paly library are celebrating Black History Month with artwork and displays across campus.

    According to Black Scholars United 2.0 adviser Letitia Burton, the club created a commemorative display in the library and holds conversations on African American history during lunchtime meetings every other Thursday.

    “We [BSU 2.0] deal with black history all year, not just the month of February, but specifically for this month we’re looking at black women in STEM,” Burton said. “We have conversations [and] we’re getting ready to go on a field trip to the Oakland Museum to learn about the Black Panther Party and the influence of the Black Panther Party on the Bay Area and in America in general.”

    According to Burton, the club members aim to educate themselves on African-American history and civil liberties throughout the year.

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    The library displays chalk art designed by BSU 2.0. Photo: Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    “The issue is not to bring black history to the school; that’s not what we do,” Burton said. “We really feel like black history is a part of American history and all Americans should take an interest in it. It [BSU 2.0] is a space where, not just black students, but [all] students can come and talk about what’s current in terms of current social and political events.”

    BSU 2.0 President Naima Castañeda Isaac says that Paly history classes should focus more on black history throughout the year, not just in February.

    “Throughout certain units [in class] there’s chances for more black history to be coming out, like during slavery, but they [history classes] have failed to mention anything about it and it’s almost like they’re skipping over some things,” Castañeda Isaac said.

    The library is displaying books related to the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a poster commemorating African American women in STEM, according to library assistant Debbie Henry.

    “We have a display up showing our black history books and also on our board, we have black history artwork,” Henry said. “We usually do pull out our black history books; it is an annual thing. One year we did have a local black artist who lent us some of his artwork that we did display, but that was a long time ago.”

    Paly’s Social Justice Pathway students studied a unit on the Black Panther Party and also visited the Oakland Museum to study the movement, according to senior SJP student Jeanette Andrews. In addition, SJP members drew a mural on the library chalkboard for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

    “Black history month is a month to celebrate African Americans who fought so much against the discrimination their community has been facing for so long,” Andrews said. “This might just be me, but aside from little things like displaying books about African American people in the library, I haven’t heard much about Black History Month at Paly, and I think that just goes to show how we don’t celebrate it enough.”

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