Lawrentians Celebrate Black History Month

This past Wednesday, Lawrenceville celebrated Black History Month during this week’s school meeting, where the School featured members of the student-led Alliance of Black Cultures (ABC), Black Women at Lawrenceville (BWAL), Caribbean Students Association (CSA), and the Pan-African Alliance.

This past Wednesday, Lawrenceville celebrated Black History Month during this week’s school meeting, where the School featured members of the student-led Alliance of Black Cultures (ABC), Black Women at Lawrenceville (BWAL), Caribbean Students Association (CSA), and the Pan-African Alliance. Lawrentians spoke about Black history, from the Harlem Renaissance to present day, and also offered reflections on recent issues of racial inequality and justice.

During the school meeting, students organized presentations about Black history at Lawrenceville and in America and also shared performances, from dances to poetry. Jasmine Bright ’21, co-president of ABC, opened with a history of the first Black students and teachers of Lawrenceville, and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis ’22 continued with a presentation about the Harlem Renaissance. Moving to the present day, BWAL Co-President Ava Conyer ’21 and ABC Council member Laila Ritter ’21 also spoke about the Black Lives Matter and Black Power Movement. To conclude the reflections, students from the African Students Union (ASU) and CSA finished by talking about Pan-Africanism and its relation to the Civil Rights and African Independence Movements. The event also featured interspersed artistic performances: Corinne Johnson ’23, Jessica Peters ’24, and Louis offered interpretive dances of “River” by Leon Bridges, “Kukere” by Iyana, and “Freedom” by Shatta Wale, respectively, and Andrew Boanoh ’23 recited “The Hill We Climb” by poet Amanda Gorman.

Even though Covid-19 has thrown a wrench in some of their original plans, leaders of ABC, CSA, BWAL, and ASU are still optimistic of their plans in the Winter Term. “Obviously we’ve been virtual this term and it’s kind of hard to stay connected with people,” said Souleymane Diarra ’21, co-president of ASU, “but on the whole, it’s important to keep the community close. So I think whether it [be] just checking in individually on certain people or having group discussions, we try to do our best with [what we can].”

Breanna Barrett ’21, co-president of the CSA, echoed similar sentiments. “While the virtual term has been hard, a big positive [for Caribbean students] has been reconnecting with our culture. We’ve been able to reconnect with our parents and life back in the Caribbean…because many of us were able to go back to our respective countries.”

Mathematics Teacher and faculty advisor to ABC and BWAL Charise Hall emphasized the importance of reflecting on and celebrating Black history. “I am super, super proud of them because it’s difficult talking to a group of people about such heavy topics, but it’s even more different when you’re on Zoom because you can’t really see your audience.” She continued to express her pride regarding Wednesday’s event: “I just find that these students are just so resilient in educating people and standing up and sharing. It’s just phenomenal.”

All the clubs involved in Wednesday’s event share a common goal. “Within the Black population at Lawrenceville, [various people encounter] unique experiences and struggles,” Diarra said. “We want to share these struggles and life experiences in a way that helps us bond and, ultimately, help us become closer as a community.”

Hall echoed this sentiment, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, I just want to continue to support the kids of color on campus. They’re going to make an impact on the student community.”

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