As a school district that values diversity, we believe Black History should be celebrated 365 days a year — 366 in a leap year. The diverse histories, experiences, stories and voices of Black people should be recognized, honored, and uplifted every day.
We also value the fundamental opportunity Black History Month offers schools to acknowledge African Americans as critical to the past, present and future, and we recognize the importance, relevance and origins of Black History Month.
The month of February was officially recognized as Black History Month in 1976, but its origins go back 50 years prior when Carter G. Woodson had a vision for promoting African American history.
In collaboration with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Woodson launched “Negro History Week” in 1926 to elevate the narratives of African Americans into mainstream awareness and to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans.
Throughout the month of February, San Francisco public schools host a multitude of lessons, events, performances and more to celebrate black excellence. For instance, James Lick Middle School is hosting a virtual event, “Forward Together: Celebrating Black Joy in the Performing Arts.” And “SF Loves Learning,” our original educational TV show that airs on KTVU Plus, has put together a series of clips celebrating Black History Month, which are available to watch anytime.
It’s important that these conversations continue outside of the classroom, and there are many ways that you can celebrate Black History Month at home, too.
To get the ideas flowing, check out our updated San Francisco Unified School District Black History Month Resource Guide. This guide is a compilation of resources from blogs, news outlets, reference guides and community organizations that teachers can incorporate into units and lessons throughout the year. You’re welcome to reference it for ideas to bring Black History Month alive in your family’s discussions and activities too.
Although we have made progress in our efforts to educate and support each and every SFUSD student, we know that there are still persistent gaps in access, opportunities and outcomes for many Black students in our district, city and country.
We are also extremely proud of the many students, staff and school communities in SFUSD that are excelling and uplifting the achievements and history of Black Americans all year and especially during the month of February.
In closing, I want to extend a special invitation to any parents of African American students in SFUSD. If you want to become more involved in the districtwide African American Parent Advisory Council or to network with other families in SFUSD, visit sfusd.edu/AAPAC, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to supporting your children in partnership.
Happy Black History Month!
Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.