Black history is important no matter what month it is. Valarie Humphrey, the sponsor and founding member of the Beyond club, explained that black history is always significant, but Black History Month is when black history is given proper recognition by those who are non-black. Humphrey compared it to be similar to a birthday. You are always getting older, but there is that one day in the year when it is recognized and celebrated by those around you.
AT has incredible opportunities and clubs for students that involve sharing one’s culture, and one of these amazing clubs is the Beyond club.
With a smaller African American population in Addison, our principal, Jack Andrews strived to create a club that would bring together the black students of AT. Humphrey explained that Andrews specifically sought her out for this position. Humphrey had previously been a principal and her career has always had an emphasis on helping others.
The two met with each other and spoke about creating the club, and within the meeting, they came to the idea of wanting the students to go beyond. So, Humphrey chose the club name Beyond to represent that belief and to represent their wish for the students.
Beyond meets every Wednesday with Humphrey leading the gathering. The club includes many personal activities to build bonds between the other members. A powerful aspect of the club is that the members are able to share their culture in a place where they feel safe.
It can be hard to share your culture and speak about your experiences when your school has a small number of people who have that culture. Beyond is providing an environment where black students can meet with other black students to create friendships and share culture.
Black allies are welcome to join Beyond, but the club has an emphasis on the black students of AT. Humprey, being the club’s creator and sponsor, seeks out any black students that are new to AT, and encourages them to join the club. Beyond seeks to help students go beyond by monitoring grades and promoting the significance of education.
On Friday, February 24 there will be a great event held in the black box theatre called the AA con 2023. At AA con, there will be an amazing group of speakers coming to inspire the students, as well as a luncheon. Humphrey commented on the luncheon aspect of the event that there would be great real mac and cheese.
“That depends on where you are physically and mentally. When our culture is regularly celebrated in our homes the month of February is the icing on the cake that is baked year round in our homes,” said Humphrey in regard to the acknowledgment of Black History Month in the U.S.
There is an abundance of African American historical figures who are inspiring to young black Americans. Kieara Benson, who is a freshman here at AT, explained that Harriet Tubman, a well-known black abolitionist, was her most outstanding inspiration. Humphrey agreed with Benson that Tubman is a great influence and commented, “She went back,”.
Humphrey also felt that it was worth mentioning that an important part of black history month is not only paying recognition to the horrors of the past but also seeing black history for all of the wonderful inventors and other positive events.
“It means that the world gets to highlight the evolution of my people. It’s a joyful season to see others acknowledge the work and the accomplishments of black people around the world,” said Humphrey.
Serena Sheats highlighted Maya Angelou as an inspiration to her because of her wonderful poetry. Maya Angelou is a poet known for writing about many different themes such as love, loss, and discrimination. Her writing is done from an autobiographical stance.
Often when black history is being highlighted, it is the evil that black individuals were and are still currently put through. Noting the horrors is significant if we plan to change the systemic issues of oppression that are still prevalent in today’s society, politics, police, and more. But while we work towards spreading awareness to make changes, everyone must also spread all of the accomplishments of black folk around the globe.