The ∂∂“ý Unified School District celebrates Black History Month to commemorate the histories, traditions, and important contributions of Black people to our nation.
In 2020, when Black Lives Matter protests spread across the nation, our School Board passed the Resolution in Support of Black Lives Matter, This resolution is a symbol of the District‚Äôs ongoing commitment to focus unerringly on the success of African American students, families, and staff members, and to serve as a visible affirmation of the movement for racial equality in the United States.
February 1, 2024
Dear ∂∂“ý Unified Community,
In addition to our mission to enable and inspire our diverse student body to achieve academic excellence and make positive contributions to our world, BUSD is committed to ensuring Excellence, Equity, Engagement, and Enrichment to the students that we serve.
In 2020, when Black Lives Matter protests spread across the nation, our School Board passed the Resolution in Support of Black Lives Matter. This important resolution continues to guide our work as a district, from the establishment of the BUSD Reparations Task Force and our ongoing Ethnic Studies curriculum development, to our upcoming annual Oratorical Fest later this spring.
As a school district that values diversity, we believe Black History and the diverse histories, experiences, stories and voices of Black people should be recognized, honored, and uplifted every day. We also value the fundamental opportunity that Black History Month and Black Lives Matter at School Week provides us to elevate, lift up and affirm the rich history and many contributions of the Black community in all of our lives. As we celebrate throughout the month of February, we must also acknowledge there is deep and challenging work ahead of us to shift our inherently racist structures.
We begin our celebration by honoring the legacy of historian Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month, who established the (ASALH) in 1915 and who launched what would become Black History Month in 1926.
African Americans and the Arts
ASALH continues to set the theme for Black History Month each year, and the theme for 2024 is This aligns with the theme of this year‚Äôs Oratorical Fest which is Black Artists. This theme will highlight how the Black experience is translated into works of art and the creativity that is built into African American cultural expression.
BUSD’s Black History Oratorical Fest begins with competitions at our school sites in February and culminates with the district-wide competition, held this year on March 21.
Black Lives Matter at School Week
During , celebrated this year from February 5-9, we will center the concept of collective value. That means acknowledging the diverse needs within the Black experience that make Blackness so beautiful.
As we celebrate Black History this month, we must also continue to honor the lived experiences of each and every one of our Black students in our classrooms. As educators, we must be mindful of who we center in these discussions and how we support our Black students during and afterwards.
The Black History Month TK-8 Teaching Guide and Family Guides found below, updated for 2024, are a set of curated lessons, songs, local organizations, biographies, podcasts, and more. These resources are offered as a support to our teaching staff and families, as another way to bring Black creativity, Black excellence, Black wellness, and Black joy to our schools and homes today and every day.
Enikia Ford Morthel
Black Lives Matter at School Week
was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin‚Äôs murderer. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. The movement aims to dismantle white supremacy via combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy.
As part of BUSD’s Resolution in Support of Black Lives Matter, one week in the month of February is recognized as Black Lives Matter at School Week in the district. Black Lives Matter at School Week serves as an extension of the centering of racial justice set forth by #BlackLivesMatter within the BUSD Community. During this week, discussions about anti-black racism and discrimination are encouraged in classrooms and at home.
The guiding principle for is Collective Value. This principle states: ‚ÄúWe are guided by the fact that all Black lives, regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, economic status, ability, disability, education, location, age, immigration status, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, matter. None of us are free until we are all free.‚ÄĚ
Click on the video above to watch some BUSD students from elementary to high school grade levels¬† share about their unique lived experiences and what makes them feel valued at school.
Black History Oratorical Fest: March 21, 2024
Banner image features “Black Joy” by artist¬†¬†aka Hippy Potter
The First BUSD Black History Oratorical Fest
The first BUSD Black History Oratorical Fest Competition was held in 2018 with the purpose of uplifting Blackness while providing Berkeley students with an opportunity to shine through public speaking. Students recited published or original speeches, skits, spoken word, and poems from educators, entrepreneurs, government officials, and other authors related to that year‚Äôs theme.
∂∂“ý This Year‚Äôs Theme: Black Artists
This year‚Äôs Black History Oratorical Fest theme, Black Artists, aligns the BUSD competition with the national theme for Black History Month.
“African American artists — poets, writers, visual artists, and dancers — have historically served as change agents through their crafts. Drawn from their ancestors’ ancient rites of passage and the shared hopes of liberty, Black artists continue to fuse the rhythmic cadence of creative expressions with the pulsating beats of progress.”
This year‚Äôs theme encourages our students to present original or published speeches focused on voicing the beauty and power of Black Artists. The audience will enjoy a variety of spoken word, speeches, and poetry performances by our talented students.
Student and Family Resources
are intended to help students and families prepare for participation in ∂∂“ý Unified’s Black History Oratorical Festival coming later this school year.
Lifting Up BUSD Black Staff¬† Voices
In celebration of our Black community,¬† this year BUSD has introduced ‚ÄúLifting Up BUSD Black Staff Voices,‚ÄĚ a campaign to share our Black staff narratives with our students and community by creating posters featuring their stories and experiences. These posters will be displayed at schools, work sites, on the BUSD website, and in district publications. Sharing these narratives with our students will allow them to deepen connections with Black staff across the district.
Please click on each name to see a full-sized poster.
Students may submit entries to participate in this Black History Month competition across a variety of categories (visual art, oral tradition, music, literature, historical exhibits, or dance). This competition is sponsored by Berkeley Juneteenth Cultural Celebrations, BUSD, the City of Berkeley, and other community partners. Click to enter.