ONYX celebrates Black History Month


Annie Rubinson, Blogger

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson announced the initiation of Negro History Week during the second week of February. Because this week contained the birth dates of both Abraham Lincoln, official ‘abolisher’ of slavery, and Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and former slave, Woodson felt that it was the perfect time to acknowledge and reflect upon black history. With the launch and pursuit of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 20th century and the boom of activism that came alongside it, it was decided in 1976 that one week simply wasn’t enough–and thus, Black History Month was born.

Since its founding just over thirty years ago, members of the black community, along with allies, have developed their own definitions of what the month means for them–so what does Black History Month mean to the Masters community? Onyx, Masters’ black empowerment club, has officially begun a month-long celebration of black history both within their club meetings and throughout the rest of the school.

“To me, [Black History Month] is about celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of black people, specifically in the United States,” Jackson said. She emphasized that one of the main purposes of the month was to acknowledge the unrecognized additions to society from the black community, such as the traffic light, the elevator, and even the perfected version of the light bulb. “[There are] all of these things that black people have contributed that we use in our everyday lives, but people don’t necessarily know [where they come from],” Jackson concluded.

Jackson, along with the rest of Onyx leadership, is working to spread black history and culture throughout the school during the month of February. Their first step was to begin reading a quote at the end of each morning meeting from an influential figure in black history. They are also working on a short video about the underappreciated contributions to society by the black community (mentioned above).

Lastly, the Onyx leadership will be dedicating each meeting toward acknowledgments of black history and celebrating black culture. “We’re thinking about showing a documentary about the Tulsa Race Riots,” Jackson said. While that is not necessarily a celebration, she hopes that showing the film will allow the club members to honestly reflect upon the terrible hardships of early black history. “It was something horrific and tragic, but it’s good to talk about it,” she said.

As black history is being celebrated within Onyx meetings, Jackson emphasizes the relevance of spreading awareness throughout the rest of the Masters community: “Black history is American history,” she said. “If people are going to pick and choose aspects of black culture to love and appropriate, then they need to know the history behind it.” She used cornrows as an example of black culture that is appropriated by other groups without understanding the true significance of the style to the black community.

Onyx meets every Monday during lunch to discuss current events within the black community, and bring up issues within the school community. Onyx is a place where people can share stories, ask questions, and offer support. “In a school where I’m the minority, it’s good to have a place where I’m the majority,” Jackson said. Keep an eye out for ways to participate to Onyx’s black history celebration!