February was Black History Month, and this year Eaglebrook celebrated many prominent and influential Black people in a variety of ways around campus. On February 10, a few students and teachers from all walks of life and areas around the globe discussed their own versions of their Blackness at the morning assembly. The riveting and moving speeches illustrated each of their personal journeys, acknowledging their individual form of Blackness. As Michaelann Denton, Assistant Director of Admissions, said, “Black History Month allows black people to celebrate the many forms of blackness. Blackness is not a monolith. Blackness is not limited to the United States. It is diverse, creative, unique, and different. Blackness comes in many shades. Blackness is in every state, country, continent….” Watch the Black History Month assembly here
In connection with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Committee and the Black Affinity Group, different influential Black musicians were spotlighted throughout the month of February. Students heard a different artist played each week over the speaker system instead of hearing some of the normal class bells.
During the first week of February, students heard the music of Scott Joplin. Joplin was an American-born composer and pianist, best known for his incredible influence on ragtime music. The music department then highlighted a legendary black woman, Aretha Franklin during the second week. She was a singer, pianist, songwriter, but also an important civil rights activist. Her music is the definition of "soul music" and lyrics speak to her spirit, call for racial justice, and authentic gospel style.
Throughout the last week, an American-born black musician who is still very active in his music career, Wynton Marsalis, was spotlighted. Marsalis is one of the most influential jazz trumpeters in the music scene today, winning nine Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records. Marsalis co-founded the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York and still works tirelessly to promote black music history and to propel jazz music to the forefront of American culture.
Additionally, the DEI Committee utilized the School’s digital signs all over campus and the library display to get the students involved in Black History Month. The Spotlight Program highlighted a different influential black person each day. Some of the people spotlighted over the course of February included Phillis Wheatley, John Urschel, Bob Marley, John Pope Franklin, Faither Badler, Yara Shahidi, Gordon Parks, and Palmer Hayden among many others. This allowed students to stop by the signs and educate themselves on these inspiring people. In addition, the Copley Library provided the Eaglebrook community with book displays that highlight relevant topics and/or themes. For Black History Month, the library created a display titled “Celebrate Black Voices, Read a Book.” The books selected for display were written solely by black authors, from the United States, Canada, Africa, and elsewhere, and spanned the 20th and 21st centuries.
“I really turned to the students and my colleagues to see what they envisioned. People continuously told me that Eaglebrook should be more vocal about Black History Month and its celebration of Black people. Ultimately, I digested and processed the ideas given to me and I set the table for every student and employee to sit, laugh, talk, and eat,” said Cam Taylor, DEI Coordinator.