Groveport Madison to highlight Black History Month

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Groveport Madison Schools are embracing Black History Month in February.

“Recognizing and celebrating Black history in our nation and in our communities is important to each of us in Groveport Madison Schools,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden. “It’s essential that our students learn about and appreciate the achievements and contributions of people of color throughout our nation’s history.”

Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said, in addition to curricular and other learning activities taking place in the schools, students will be encouraged to explore Black history on their own through a district poetry, coloring, and art showcase.

“High school students on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council will be assisting us with developing and posting social media messages throughout the month,” said Warner. “We’ll have presentations from various groups and we’ve reached out to Black history makers from our own community to contribute video messages that will be shared with students and staff and be posted on our social media outlets. We’re also finalizing plans for virtual community movie nights where we would send out a link to all of our families to join us for movies that help to illustrate some of the struggles and accomplishments of Black Americans.”

Groveport Madison Board of Education member LaToya Dowdell-Burger said, “I love all of the events. However, I am most excited about our 2021 Black History Program that will be available for the community at large. My hope is that it will embrace and learn about our culture, heritage and legacy.”

Dowdell-Burger thinks it is important for the schools and the community to embrace Black History Month and she recalled a time in the early 2000s during her junior U.S. History class that a separate book entitled, “The African American Experience: A History,” was an addendum to the class’ large and thick history textbook.

“I wondered why there are two separate textbooks? Isn’t Black History American History? For that reason alone I knew then, and more importantly now, that it is apparent that today’s society and culture to learn about what the Black race, or a more technical term, American Descendants of Slavery,” said Dowdell-Burger. “To include race relations, diversity, equity and inclusion. Black History is not just a month, it is American History, and during this month organizations, educational institutions and individuals can share with the world what has been omitted in textbooks.”

Dowdell-Burger is the second Black woman to ever serve on the Groveport Madison Board of Education. When asked why she thinks diversity on the board is important for the students and the community, she said it is important so children do not have to battle with acceptance and belonging, when they know their lineage, heritage and customs from where they come.

“For our students and community, it is important to know they have someone who understands, connects, and represents their demographic in a space or place that makes decisions that directly impact them in their educational journey. Communities of non-color will find the benefits and the enhancement of diversity, inclusion, and equity when they embrace the importance of race relations,” said Dowdell-Burger. Diversity as it pertains to Black people, or American Descendants of Slavery, is only necessary because it once was forbidden. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is key so that all people have the same fair advantage to learn, live and be who they authentically are.”

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