Black History Month is an annual observance that takes place every February in the United States. It was first officially recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford who encouraged people to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every American president has identified the entire month of February as Black History Month.
At Mira Loma, this past February marked the third year in which students and staff have celebrated Black History Month with a block party. The block party has received much support from multiple faculty members who started it as a way to celebrate black culture on Mira Loma’s campus.
According to Mr. Stinson, one of the teachers who initiated the idea of a block party, “One of the reasons we feel that Black History Month is an important event is that, just like Asian culture, there so many parts of the world where people identify as black and this helps visitors to the festival understand the many nations, histories, and traditions [that] contribute to American Black history and American Black culture. Additionally with the broad national discussions/debates around justice, representation, and equity, [the block party is] a place for students to gather, collaborate, share ideas, celebrate accomplishments, and expand their sense of community at Mira Loma.”
This block party takes place during the last week of February and is usually the finale to the More Love, Less Hate week. Unlike a few of the other cultural festivals that take place on campus, the block party is typically after school to allow more students, teams, and clubs to participate. The block party ordinarily includes spoken poetry, collaborative games, snacks, art galleries, and dance exhibitions as part of the celebration.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s block party was celebrated virtually on a website which showcases student art, as well as personal video testimonials from students about what the celebration means to them. The website also contains a link to the block party archives which shows pictures of previous block party activities. People who are interested in seeing how Black History Month was celebrated this year can visit the website here.
The block party owes much of its success to the support of faculty advisors and Mira Loma’s Visual and Performing Arts teachers, who have worked hard to encourage Mira Loma’s culture despite distance learning. Participation by the student body also greatly contributed to keeping the spirit of this month alive. As best stated by Mr. Stinson, “The students are nothing short of amazing with the art they are producing right now. Matadors are truly unique people.”