A Month To Remember

BASS shares knowledge with the Stevenson community on Black History Month, emphasizes need for greater cultural inclusivity and education.

A+Month+To+Remember

Jasmine Sun and Surya Sethi

Although the month of February is often characterized as the “month of love” by extravagant Valentine’s Day celebrations, Jade Cadichon ’21 hopes to shine a light on a different reason for celebration, reflection and remembrance: Black History Month. As the Co-President of the Black Alliance of Stevenson Students (BASS) Cadichon has worked closely with other students, leaders and staff to spread an awareness of the significance and meaning the month holds.

BASS, whose mission focuses on informing and educating the Stevenson community about Black culture, provides a space for members to share their knowledge and experiences, as well as connect with other groups throughout the school. 

For Black History Month, BASS has planned a collaboration with Stevenson’s Film Club to show the movie Selma, a historical film recounting the movement for Black suffrage led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In addition, the club has partnered with the school’s FIRE (Fostering Intercultural Respect and Empowerment) club and Diversity Council.

These collaborations are part of a bigger BASS effort to collaborate with different student groups to forge stronger connections to the school community. Despite the pandemic moving the club to an all virtual setting this year, BASS’s attention to outreach has enabled the club to share their message to a wider audience.

“This year, a really big part of what we’re trying to do is just to show people that we’re all inclusive and that we want everyone to receive the same amount of education,” Cadichon said. “I think working with other clubs really helps us in showing that anyone can join BASS and to learn about Black culture without actually being Black.”

Taurus Scurlock, one of BASS’s sponsors who works to assist student leaders in their organization of the club, echoes Cadichon’s desire to collaborate with different groups. Scurlock believes that such an initiative will not only allow the club to expand, but forge stronger connections as a part of the school community.

“We want to be more cohesive in terms of working with the other clubs and organizations,” Scurlock said. “We want to be more than an affinity group, we want to immerse ourselves into Stevenson’s diverse community of cultures, clubs and organizations.”

To kick off the month, BASS is sharing daily facts about Black history to the school via the morning announcements so as to reach the entire student body. In addition, the club is preparing a video which will feature members speaking on the personal meaning Black History Month holds to them, something that Cadichon feels has only been overall heightened since the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“Especially when I was younger, people acknowledged ‘oh it’s Black History Month’, but it only lasted the first week [of February],” Cadichon said. “Now [that] people are really starting to step up and talk about historical events and whatnot, there’s a greater sense of awareness.” 

The public conversation has slightly shifted the club’s focus regarding the message they want to convey for the month. Scurlock identifies that in light of recent events, the BASS members have expressed a passion for social justice and activism, a sentiment that has carried into the club’s reflection and celebration of Black History Month. 

“The feedback that we got from students was that they wanted to look at the Kamala Harris’s, the Breonna Taylor’s, the George Floyd’s,” Scurlock said. “It’s not that they don’t hear about MLK and Malcom X and the people that we generally hear about during Black History Month, but they wanted to add those pieces of contemporary history in as well.”

Aligning with their mission to expose students to lesser known aspects of Black history and the Black experience, BASS has implemented a presentation on a lesser known historical event, person or narrative during each meeting. 

In planning for the month, the group has also collaborated with Dr. LeViis Haney, Stevenson’s recently appointed Director of Equity, Race and Inclusion, who has acted as a resource and sounding board for members. In addition to these responsibilities, he works towards celebrating all cultures, and he feels that this must be done by a different approach than many others believe, especially in terms of months such as Black History Month. 

“I would like to see a constant emphasis on the cultures and ethnicities of those at SHS,” Haney said. “I would like to see a constant emphasis on the cultures and ethnicities of those at SHS. Our students are asking that we not confine that learning to a month or to a particular period of time.”

Rather than designating only a month for the celebration of specific cultural groups, Haney observes that the most powerful tool for creating change is continuously integrating such values within the school. Through such actions, Haney believes that the school can truly cultivate an environment with deeper appreciation for diversity.

During his time at Stevenson, Haney has been working towards making Stevenson a more inclusive community, and part of that effort has been working with clubs such as BASS to communicate how the greater community can support  Black History Month. 

“I had asked BASS ‘how would you like us as a school to celebrate Black History Month?’” Haney said. “[The students] responded that they want us, as a school, to show them that we are behind them and that we care about their experiences at Stevenson. They want us to be angry and act decisively when they are discriminated against or treated badly based on the color of their skin.”

Although BASS has made great strides in heading initiatives that share their knowledge and narratives with the public, Cadichon similarly emphasizes the importance of the school’s support in continuously integrating the true breadth of Black history into the classroom. In order for Stevenson to truly convey the value they hold for the experiences of their students, Cadichon believes a greater priority needs to be placed on providing a more holistic understanding in the classroom rather than simplifying and compartmentalizing aspects of Black history.  

“Black history has such a large depth but many people don’t realize how much has changed since the Civil Rights Era and even before then,” Cadichon said. “Sometimes it’s easier to teach and learn about passive movements, but there needs to be a better job done on educating us about the whole picture rather than making Black history seem less important than it is.”