In honor of Black History month, Saints faculty and students across campus have found engaging and creative ways of recognizing Black contributions to our nation’s history.
In our Upper School, Jay Wood's English students read the bestselling biography “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The group then hosted Trey Walk, an intern from EJI to discuss the group's legal work to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality, particularly among Black and African American citizens.
Wood remembers reading “Just Mercy” over the summer and being overwhelmed by how powerful and timely the topics of racial disparities in the justice system were presented. “I was absolutely riveted by this book,” said Wood. “I thought, ‘This a text I want kids to bump into.’”
For students like Luke Jones ‘23, the lessons in Wood’s class provided him with a new lens through which to view the issues surrounding race and incarceration in the United States. “The biggest thing for me was that it offered a new perspective, the humanity of the issue,” said Jones. “The focus on the human, compassionate approach was very perspective-shifting.”
In our Middle School, boys were treated to visual displays of significant moments in Black history in common areas. “As a community, we want our students to have a comprehensive understanding of history from a range of different perspectives,” said Middle School Librarian Lisa Brennan. Earlier this month, Brennan created a hallway-spanning visual timeline of important events, movements and dates regarding Black history in the United States in areas frequented by seventh and eighth grade boys.
“It’s American history. It has to be there for us to have a complete American history,” said eighth grader Isaac Lupica '25, after viewing and reflecting on the timeline.
Brennan hopes that the format of the project helps boys learn about Black History in a creative way. “This timeline was a good opportunity to do something tactile and visual in a way that lets the boys go through it at their own pace.”
Second grade boys in Hayden Vick’s class found a way to combine their developing research skills with learning about Black history. Students learned about the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his contributions to modern painting and then followed up by researching and writing reports on other Black historical figures. “I want to scaffold these lessons in a way that normalizes Black history,” said Vick. “Talking about this aspect of history can often be compartmentalized to just this month.”
Other Lower School events included Rev. Darren Steadman’s chapel service
about the life of abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman. Rev. Steadman presented the life and accomplishments of Tubman as an example of the act of “opening our homes” to those in need.
Rev. Steadman hoped that the message and lessons of his chapel service will resonate with the Lower School boys beyond Black History Month. “February is a good start, but it should be our goal to incorporate Black history with American history,” said Rev. Steadman. “Studying Black history gives us the fullness of American history. You can’t have one without the other.”