By Addison Oken and Rory Collins
Every year, February marks Black History Month, a month created to celebrate Black excellence and remind communities around the country to respect and acknowledge all that Black Americans have done for our world. Here at Beaver, The Black Student Union takes it upon themselves each February to try and educate our community and themselves on the importance of recognizing this work. The club brings in guest speakers, and past Beaver alum, and hosts various activities for their club and others to educate themselves during these crucial 28 days. We at the Beaver Reader had the pleasure of sitting down with Black Student Union leaders Chris Guerrier ‘24, Kyla Sheedy-Goff ‘24, and Thai Davis ‘231 to discuss what they are doing this year for Black History Month and what they would like to see more of at Beaver moving forward.
In our conversation, we talked about what the BSU has been doing throughout the year and the purpose behind the club. The leaders informed us that they use the weekly club block as a chance to vent about issues that they can’t talk about in-depth in predominantly White spaces. The club is a space for talking about recent news, strengthening the Black community at Beaver, and overall being there for each other. Chris Guerrier explained that the BSU “Represents each other and building a community with one another and the Black kids in the Beaver community.” He elaborated further, stating: “Our space is for us. It is used to bond with each other, vent about issues, and have each other to rely on.”
At the beginning of the month, the leaders announced at the Upper School Meeting the importance of Black History Month and why it is imperative that Black excellence be celebrated this month. Since then, the club has brought in Beaver alumni from the Spelman and Morehouse Colleges to speak about their experiences going to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Kyla Sheedy-Goff spoke to us about these speakers and why they brought them in for the club: “We’re trying to educate ourselves about HBCUs and also get more knowledge about Black excellence because they are examples of some of the black excellence.” Their speakers are very prominent figures in the alumni circle, for they are very successful and graduated from Harvard Law and Dartmouth Law respectively. The topics brought up during their talk were able to inspire some club members to think about applying to HBCUs as they embark on their college application process.
Another notable alumni the club has brought in in the past month is the founder of the first Beaver Black Student Union. This speaker graduated in 1972, and since then she has become a very distinguished educator and figure in the Boston community. The leaders emphasized that they would love to have her back to speak not just to the BSU but to the entire school at Upper School Meeting, stating that “We’re just trying to do stuff within our Black Student Union community that maybe we will be able to expand out to the Beaver community soon.” Thai Davis expanded on this topic, saying that “this Black History Month we’re more focused inside the club because usually, we are trying to educate everyone else. But to do this, first, we have to educate ourselves and create a community within ourselves and celebrate ourselves.”
Our final question for the BSU was what they think the Beaver community could do more of to support what they are working on in the club. They answered with the advice for people to be more willing to learn and become educated because unfortunately, some people are just “ignorant to be ignorant.” Kyla went on to say that the club cannot force people to care or become educated, but they cannot be the only educators on this subject in a school with hundreds of students. The BSU would love more support from faculty and administrators not just during Black History Month, but throughout the entire year because Black excellence is something that should be acknowledged and respected year-round. They expect everyone to treat Black History Month and Black education as something that is important and cared about. Chris Guerrier finished off our interview with some guidance for the Beaver student body to think about next time the BSU brings forth an important topic: “If you have something that you want to push forth and something that you want others to learn about, you would expect them to actively listen.” The entire club is working toward a future where people at Beaver will treat February as a time to honor Black history and excellence, but also will use the other 11 months in the year as a time for reflection and celebration.
1It is important to note that Wilson Baker ’24 is also a club leader but was unable to make it to our interview
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