Celebrating Black History Month with Truth Telling and Tributes

Above: Highlights of posts from the BSU Instagram

Princeton Day School capped off a busy February of Black History Month experiences with a beautiful and memorable virtual community celebration led by Black Student Union members and the Community Multicultural Development Team.

BSU student co-heads Tyanna Miller '22 and Tyler Robinson '22 hosted a program that featured more than thirty voices from the School community. Presentations spanned all divisions and included students, faculty and staff. Among the highlights:

  • Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Anthony McKinley reflected on Black History Month and expressed his gratitude for the community of Black PDS faculty, staff and students. "Despite the constant communication from the world that Black life is somehow less than the lives of others, our students not only face this racist misinformation unflinchingly, they combat it with poetry, prose, dance, spoken word, photographs" he said.
  • Lower School students and LS Assistant Tracy Davis shared personal dedications:
  • Middle School students Adeola Egbeleye '26, Magnus Henry '28, Ariyah Lamin '26 and Avery Otoo '27 shared poetry by the late Lucille Clifton:
  • MS and US Music teacher, Band Director (and Fifth Grade Dean) Channing McCullough led a "Black History Musical Moment," discussing famous musicians Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and providing audio examples of their lasting influences on popular music.
  • US students Ida Perez-Jimenez '22 and Andre Williams '22 performed an original spoken word piece, titled "Can I Ask You Something?"; Ava Daniel '23 presented Amanda Gorman's poem “The Miracle of Morning"; Tochi Owunna '24 and Lea-Jade Richards '24 presented “Invisible” by Ijeoma Umebinyuo; Frances Bobbitt '21 shared “Praise Song for Today” by Elizabeth Alexander; Jacques Hughes '21 read Marcus Garvey's speech “The Principles of the Universal Negro Improvement Association"; and Ethan Garita '21 recited “Battle of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall.
  • Simone Spence performed a lovely rendition of the Black National Anthem on flute:
  • Michael Reed '03, Chief of Staff to Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), delivered a compelling keynote address about the importance of Black History Month in "confronting the truths of our nation and our history at all costs." Reed chronicled the evolution of BHM and shared his personal experiences growing up devoted to exploring Black history as the son of legendary PDS English teacher and the School's first director of Diversity, Gwen Reed. He cited examples throughout history in which Black Americans have fought against racist misinformation designed to oppress them. Mr. Reed was in the Capitol during the insurrection on January 6 and explained the catalyzing role of similar misinformation that spread throughout our country leading up to the violence. Citing his time at PDS as a lifer, Mr. Reed remarked, "Black history uncovers difficult truths of our common history as Americans. But it also shines like a beacon on the areas of progress and triumph that all Americans have a right to be proud of. Because it's American history and all Americans are impacted by its goal. That is why it is essential for a place like PDS to play a leading role as an institution that exists to help shape the minds of young people."

Keynote speaker Michael Reed '03

  • More students and other community members shared personal dedications:
  • CMDT Chair Caroline Lee closed by thanking all who made this event and this month of celebration possible on behalf of CMDT faculty and staff members Daniel Cohen, Victor Cirilo, Darling Cerna '13 and Dr. Candy Shah, and parent representative Tiffany Smith.

Also: February BHM Themes for Student-Led BSU IG, Flik Dining Services

PDS BSU Instagram Black History Month Campaign: In celebration of Black History Month, the Princeton Day School Black Student Union (BSU) created its own Instagram account. The account is student-run and facilitated by US Science teacher and BSU faculty advisor Alana Allen. The students worked with Ms. Allen to develop a process for creating a series of posts throughout February focused on joyful positivity and illustrating the diversity of Black individuals and their interests, accomplishments and challenges. The student-led Instagram account is also focused on finding ways to continue celebrating and honoring Black history and culture throughout the school year with a focus on uplifting the community. 

Flik Food Service Signature Menus and Activities for BHM: Chef Brian Mochnal and the Flik team throughout February with storytelling opportunities celebrating Black humanity and wellness, and special menus highlighting the history of Black cuisine throughout the world. Weekly menu themes included rice dishes from the African Diaspora; signature dishes from influential Black chefs Edna Lewis, Patrick Clark, Leah Chase, Joe Randall and Hercules Posey; a selection of global, plant-based cuisine; and an exploration of the evolution of classic Southern foods into healthy comfort options. View the Flik BHM Celebration February Program.

Flik Food Service Black History Month initiative (collage)

Images: Collage of chefs (from top left) Joe Randall, Leah Chase, Edna Lewis, Hercules Posey and Patrick Clark; Flik's rendition of Lewis' signature Brunswick stew with braised pork.

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