Black History Month Speaker and Events

Written by Ellice Hawkins, Director of Multicultural Programs and Services

Black History Month celebrations originated in the United States in the early 1900’s as a result of historian Carter G. Woodson's desire to spotlight the accomplishments of African Americans.  Mr. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) began promoting and recognizing the achievements of African Americans during “Negro History Week,” the second week in February, which highlighted the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln; this quickly grew into what we know today as African-American/Black History Month. In 1976, as the US was celebrating its bicentennial, the ASALH expanded the traditional week-long celebration of African-American history to a month, and Black History Month was born. That same year, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to observe Black History Month, but it was President Jimmy Carter who officially recognized Black History Month in 1978. With the federal government's blessing, Black History Month became a regular event in America. This year’s National Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Vote,” commemorating the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) and Fifteenth Amendment (1870), both of which granted women’s suffrage and the right to vote. 

This year's Black History Month Speaker at Lovett is a rising star in STEM education and advocacy. Justin J. Shaifer is a LinkedIn Top Voice in Technology and a popular science communicator with a talent for understanding and inspiring GenZ. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Fascinate, Inc., a nonprofit that partners with organizations such as Microsoft, Google, and the MIT Media Lab to excite underrepresented students about STEM careers. He is also a science education Ph.D. student at Teachers College of Columbia University and host of WGBH’s live science show, Escape Lab, featured on Twitch. Known for the Magic Cool Bus Project and his TEDx talk, “How to Speak Generation Z,” also known as “Mr. Fascinate,” Justin is a prominent presence on social media. He continues to reach millions with his content, keynotes, and workshops. Justin regularly speaks to students, educators, and corporate stakeholders around the world about the importance of STEM, STEM diversity, and creating a pipeline of diverse STEM professionals. Justin is joining us for the day on Tuesday, February 25 to speak to the students during assembly, classes and lunch meetings on "Why STEM is Cool," and with the faculty on how to integrate STEM into their curriculum. February 25 at 6 PM in the Theater, Justin will speak about "How to Speak GenZ." Following Justin's talk, we will meet in the Lovett Galleria for the Unity and Heritage XIX: Memories, Visions, and Legacies art exhibition and reception. This is a free and open to the public event.

The Choral Department will welcome Jane Sapp, a musician, cultural worker, author, and educator who has been a pioneer in the struggle to define cultural work more broadly than entertainment or separate from the work of social justice. Instead, Jane actively engages people in creative cultural processes such as singing, songwriting, storytelling, festivals and oral histories as a means of building a foundation for empowerment and organizing. She has performed in concerts at colleges, concert halls, and local communities throughout the U.S., including Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger. Her performances and cultural work have been presented in schools, conferences, and concerts in Sweden, Canada, Senegal, and Mali, West Africa. Jane’s work is rooted in the spiritual, creative, and historical experiences of African-American communities. Her educational work with children is the feature of an award-winning documentary, Someone Sang for Me. Mrs. Sapp is working with our US and 8th-grade students for two weeks, beginning Tuesday, February 4. The two weeks will culminate in a chapel service for the US and MS on Thursday, February 20. Her husband, Hubert Sapp, was the assistant to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is a remarkable human being, and we are so excited about her return visit here this month!

In the Middle School, the Triple-A (African American/Black Student Affinity Group), with help from their advisors and the MS Diversity Coordinators, has taken the lead on planning and implementing the activities. They have worked on an African American segment for Monday Morning Minute, and they are in charge of the chapel service (video of service) on Thursday, February 6. The advisories are asked to choose a prominent African American historical figure or organization, to announce fun facts about their historical figure or organization over the morning announcements, then add the facts and decorate collage that will be displayed in the MS.

The Lovett International Alliance (LIA), with help from the Lower School Diversity Coordinators, is sponsoring the 2nd Annual “Doors to History” project and trivia questions for prizes.  The LIA decorated the halls for the students. This year's theme in the LS is "Celebrating Game Changers!"

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