As an opportunity to celebrate culture and make history lessons engaging and fun, Head Start staff looks forward to Black History Month each year. In February, educators at Step Forward Head Start sites found creative and interactive ways to celebrate and teach Black History to students and everyone who visited their site.
Throughout the month of February, Willard hosted themed weeks to celebrate Black history. Students participated in hands-on history and culture lessons through music and dance, food, and literature. Willard and several other Head Start sites also welcomed members of The Divine Nine, the National Pan-Hellenic Council of historically African American fraternities and sororities. Volunteers read to students and presented the history of their organizations. Members of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi also offered a presentation on their organization's stroll, an organized dance which represents power and unity.
Friendly Inn Head Start leaned into parent participation this year. The site’s primary Black History Month event was a collaborative effort. Parents recited poems, teachers led a musical presentation and students presented posters about influential African Americans such as Madame CJ Walker and Ruby Bridges, who were trailblazers and change-makers.
Carl B. Stokes, a Head Start site named after Cleveland's first African American mayor, decorated the classrooms, halls, and bulletin boards to highlight influential figures related to Cleveland. The décor featured inventors who created items we utilize every day, including Garrett Morgan’s stop light and Willis Johnson’s rotary egg beater.
Introducing young children to Black history and culture promotes understanding, empathy, and respect for all individuals. “Black history is year-round,” Gloria Chambers, the Site Administrator at Willard Head Start, said.
Although an emphasis is put on Black History during February, Step Forward Head Start staff recognizes the importance of celebrating and uplifting the diversity of students every day. It is imperative not to limit the learning of Black culture to a single month.
"Recognizing and celebrating Black History Month allows our students to see themselves in the significant contributions that Black individuals have made throughout history. By doing so, we not only honor the achievements of the past but plant the seed that the next generation is capable of making an impact as well," said Chambers.