School Board Recognizes February as Black History Month

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 10, 2017) – Every year, the Board of Education celebrates Black History Month, and supports instructional and community activities that recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.

This year, in keeping with the national theme, “The Crisis in Black Education,” the resolution also calls for improving the academic progress of L.A. Unified’s black students who, as a group, chronically lag behind their peers.

“In addition to celebrating our illustrious past and participation in the history of this nation, it is also important to focus on our black students who are in school today,” said Board Vice President Dr. George J. McKenna III, who sponsored the resolution. “Despite the outstanding individual achievements of some of our African-American students, as a group, our black students tend to score at the bottom on standardized tests and on other academic indicators, including graduation.”

The resolution directs Superintendent Michelle King to convene a committee or working group to identify “strategies and tactics to align resources targeted toward closing the gap of academic achievement outcomes for black students.”

In addition, the resolution says, “the Superintendent will work with educators, librarians, all the schools of the District and the community to recognize and celebrate this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that generate in-depth discussion of the complex factual history of the United States and the legacy of Black Americans.”

“Embracing diversity of thought and experience energizes and engages our students,” said Board Member Mónica García. “We must continue to share the powerful stories of our past to create the future we wish to live.”

Board Member Mónica Ratliff added, “I’m proud to co-sponsor this resolution by Dr. McKenna recognizing February as Black History Month. “When I taught at San Pedro Elementary School, I greatly appreciated the District's support for taking the time in February to do a deep dive into the contributions of African Americans in United States history. I hope teachers across the Distict will take the time in February to really focus on the contributions of African Americans in United States history. In addition, I look forward to hearing from the superintendent's committee or working group on how the District can better close the academic achievement gap for black students.” 

The origin of Black History Month is credited to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian. In 1926, he selected a week in February to encourage studying the race and raising national awareness of the contributions of African-Americans. He believed the recognition would benefit everyone, while also reducing pervasive racial prejudice, encouraging equal rights and helping African Americans claim the full benefits and protections of citizenship. In 1976, during the U.S. Bicentennial, the commemoration was extended to a  month-long observance.                                       

Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766                                                                             


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