LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education unanimously approved today, a resolution celebrating Black History Month in February. The 2018 theme is, “African-Americans in Times of War” beginning with a former slave, Crispus Attucks, who died in the Boston Massacre, the first American killed in the American Revolution.
“Students in L.A. Unified learn about the history and achievements of African-Americans throughout the school year. Recognizing Black History Month provides additional opportunities to focus on a part of American history that, too often in years past, was ignored,” Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said.
School Board President Mónica García said, “L.A. Unified celebrates the diversity of this nation, and that includes the past, present and ongoing contributions of African-Americans in this country. Black History month provides an opportunity for all students to better understand the achievements of African-Americans, which are important for February, and every month.”
School Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, a co-sponsor of the resolution said, ”During this tumultuous time in our country – in which the contributions of certain groups are being ignored, misinterpreted, and dismissed – it is more important than ever that we remember and celebrate the contributions of the African-American community. There is no American history without African-American history. If the headlines teach us anything, it’s that we could all spend more time studying the past and using those lessons to inform our present. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, ‘Instead of making history, we are made by history.’ A history that includes the contributions of countless African-Americans. I’m proud to support this resolution, and will join our students in learning more about our nation’s past.”
Dr. George J. McKenna III, the only African-American member of the School Board who sponsored the resolution. It directs the superintendent to “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 legacy of Black Americans.”
“Black History Month is not only for African-Americans. Everyone is this nation has benefited from our contributions and culture since the first African slaves were forcefully brought here in 1619, nearly four centuries ago,” Dr. McKenna said. “We helped to build this nation. We are an integral part of the fabric of this county. The study of our role in the history of the United States leads to broader respect and perspective.”
Boardmember Scott M. Schmerelson, a co-sponsor, said, “As a former principal, and now as a member of the L.A. Unified Board of Education, it is always an honor and pleasure to celebrate the countless and extraordinary contributions of our African American sisters and brothers. The designation of Black History Month is not merely a designation but a valuable opportunity to learn more about the achievements of African Americans in education, science, music, art, literature, civic life and every measure of our national progress.“
Boardmember Dr. Ref Rodriguez said, “The history of the black community is rich with contributions to education, science, art and human rights. Yet, it is far too often secondary to the dominant narrative of history. So let us sincerely embrace the spirit of Black History Month, and remember, celebrate, and honor the culture, character, and contributions of black people.
Boardmember Kelly Gonez, a co-sponsor, said, “Black History Month is an opportunity for our District to honor and our students to learn about the important contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout our history. African-Americans have made a defining impact on the fabric of this country, and it is right that we take the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.”
Boardmember Dr. Richard Vladovic said, ““As one of the most culturally diverse school districts in the nation, paying tribute to the history and culture of our multicultural student body is vital. To that effect, the celebration of Black History Month is critical to recognizing the achievements of our African-American citizens, and have those examples inspire our students to achieve great things.”
Regarding this year’s theme, African-Americans have participated in every war fought by the U.S. since the colonial period. Since segregation in the armed services ended in 1953, black Americans have served at a rate higher than the percentage of the U.S. population. Today, nearly 20 percent of active military is African-American, while blacks make up 13 percent of the nation’s population.
Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766