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School Board Approves Black History Month Resolution (2-4-2020)

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766
Feb. 4, 2020

 

School Board Approves Black History Month Resolution  

               Recognizes the Contributions and Achievements of African Americans

 LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education today approved a resolution recognizing February as Black History Month, “an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. History.”

The only African-American member of the School Board, Dr. George J. McKenna III sponsored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic, Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg, Board Member Mónica García, Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson, Board Member Nick Melvoin, Board Member Kelly Gonez and Student Board Member Frances Suavillo.

“Voting is one of the most significant civic responsibilities that we hold as Americans. Black people have fought and died for the right to vote for well over 150 years,” Board Member Dr. McKenna said. “We must do our part to educate and expand the next generation of voters so that we can prepare our future leaders with the tools to protect the democratic experiment. In celebration of Black History Month, we will acknowledge that all people of the United States are beneficiaries of the wealth of history given to all by black culture and generate in-depth discussions of the complexities of our factual history.”  

“Black History Month is a time to celebrate and commemorate the role African-Americans have played in the history of our country, in the communities we serve and in our schools,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “We are educating and inspiring the next generation of African-American leaders in our schools.”

This year’s theme, “African-Americans and the Vote,” focuses on equal access to the ballot. A few, free black men who owned property in northern states voted in the early years of this nation. However, the U.S. Constitution counted an enslaved person as only three-fifths of a man. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibits denying a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Southern states made their own laws to disenfranchise African-Americans. The 1965 Voting Rights Act outlawed these poll taxes, literacy tests and other racial barriers to the ballot box, resulting in a substantial increase in the registration of black voters.

“I whole-heartedly support this resolution to celebrate Black History Month, to educate our students on the role of African-Americans in history, to recognize how the African-American community has persevered over prejudice,” Board President Dr. Vladovic said. “And, to celebrate and nurture the potential of our young African-American students every day because each child deserves the opportunity to succeed.”

“All of our students should learn about the history and achievements of African-Americans throughout the school year,” Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg said. “Black History Month provides additional opportunities to focus on a part of American history that too often is ignored.”

“We celebrate and honor the history and contributions of the black community every day, not just during the month of February,” Board Member García said. “We are grateful for the lessons learned about resilience, sacrifice and the fight for equity that serve as great reminders for all of us at Los Angeles Unified of how far we have come and how we must continue to move forward in the movement toward peace, justice and equity.”

“Recognizing February as Black History Month is a way to commemorate and celebrate the many achievements and contributions African-Americans have made in history, and in our nation through art, education, literature and sports,” Board Member Schmerelson said. “It is also an opportunity to inspire and educate our students about the struggles our African-American brothers and sisters face.”

“Black history is American history, and our duty as the leaders of this district is to ensure fair and equal representation as we educate our students about our county’s past,” Board Member Melvoin said. “This resolution serves as a reminder that our responsibility to honor the contributions of black Americans in our schools lasts beyond the month of February throughout the whole year.”

“Black History Month is a critical time to recognize and honor the contributions of black Americans to our country,” Board Member Gonez said. “Their leadership in the civil rights movement, influence in the arts and continued contributions to our culture are truly admirable, and I’m so proud of our District for taking this step to ensure students see themselves reflected and celebrated in their curriculum.”

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