By Ariel Johnson, Executive Director
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
—Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut
Today marks the start of Black History Month, a time to commemorate and celebrate the achievements and central role Black Americans have played throughout our history. This year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” is a reminder of the historic and ongoing oppression those of the African diaspora have resisted throughout our history. With recent, unjust tragedies both in the District and nationally, we are reminded that our advocacy to dismantle systemic inequities requires all of us to act as change agents and accomplices.
The DC Charter School Alliance proudly celebrates the rich heritage, culture, and achievement of Black Americans, and how we have collectively shaped and strengthened our communities today and throughout history. As always, we’re grateful for our school leaders, teachers, and staff who choose every day to teach real American history –– even, and especially, the parts that are uncomfortable. We are particularly grateful to live in a city that elects officials who do not limit access to historical truth to further unjust systems of power and privilege.
But this month is also a time to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Black community. Our history is not rooted in pain, but in creativity, ingenuity, brilliance, and true joy. We celebrate the changemakers in this city who hold leadership positions on Council and behind the scenes on staff, at our agency and state board partners, and certainly those leading our schools. We celebrate that we have more Black students obtaining four year degrees than ever before. And, we take pride in our influence on modern art, athletics, music, and culture.
Black history is American history, so let’s take the time to commemorate our shared experiences, both today and when the calendar turns to March. Let us also acknowledge that building a more just, more equitable city requires both urgent and long-term commitments from each of us.
Here’s a list of ways to celebrate or learn more, and if none of these options work, don’t forget to shop and eat at a Black-owned establishment at least once this month!