From classroom projects to performances, field trips and more – our schools find a multitude of ways to honor Black History Month each year. This week, the students of Washington Irving School 14 held an assembly with a very special guest of honor: Dr. Patricia Payne, IPS Administrator on Special Assignment who oversees the district’s Racial Equity initiatives.
“Black History did not start on a plantation in America,” said Dr. Payne; “it started in ancient Africa!”
Dr. Payne shared an engaging and informative presentation with students, beginning with an overview of ancient African history to drive home the message that, contrary to what students often begin thinking, this part of history did not begin in colonial times. She also shared an inspiring message from the founder of Black History Month, Carter G. Woodson:
“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
We hear a lot about many of the most famous names in Black History each February, but did you know Indianapolis boasts several notable figures? Dr. Payne shared with students highlights of many local stars, including:
- Angela Brown – Grammy-winning opera star; graduated from Crispus Attucks High School and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music
- Frank Beckwith – First African American presidential candidate; graduated from Arsenal Technical High School
- Oscar Robertson – NBA star and Basketball Hall of Fame member; graduated from Crispus Attucks High School
- Julia Carson – First African American woman to represent Indiana’s 7th Congressional District; graduated from Crispus Attucks High School and IUPUI
“This shows the amazing things you can do too when you grow up,” said Dr. Payne, “but you have to start thinking about it now.”
We appreciate Dr. Payne’s commitment to sharing the inspiring message of our local and national Black History stars with our students; we’ll certainly share the stories of our current students with future generations as they go on to make positive contributions to our community!