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Honoring the Past and Looking to the Future During Black History Month

Our programming focuses on the whole girl, and this includes addressing the disparities at the intersection between gender and race. One of our guiding principles is to address race and racism at the center of our girls’ experience. February is #BlackHistoryMonth – a time when the contributions of African Americans are more broadly recognized – in addition to our intentional effort to honor the achievements and central role of African Americans in the United States during this time, but also all year round.

During the spring, our 2nd and 3rd graders dive into books celebrating heritage. For our students, exploring the legacy of contributions from their communities and racial heritage – and by extension, themselves – is critical to their development of their identity and seeing themselves as full participants in our society. In the African American heritage portion, students read about Martin Luther King, Jr., Wilma Rudolph, Ruby Bridges, Coretta Scott King, and events like the Great Migration and the impact of civil right leaders. In other parts of the heritage curriculum, students read books about Latinx and Asian American heritage, and discuss stories about the impact of artists, scholars, and political leaders on our society. When students see themselves and the stories of their families and communities celebrated in literature and our programs, they internalize the power and potential of their voices and unique stories.

This month our middle and high schoolers attended the Black College Expo held annually in Oakland, designed to coincide with Black History Month. Over 20 girls met with representatives from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and other higher learning institutions. They also participated in workshops about how to pay for college and learned about internships at companies like Disney. The energy of the Expo was contagious, and the girls left feeling supercharged about the opportunities open to them. “I didn’t know there were colleges just for Black students!” one girl said. “It would be great to go somewhere where everyone looks like me.”

Our mission at Girls Inc. of Alameda County is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. For all of us – girls, staff, partners, investors, and volunteers – celebrating the power of our girls’ cultural legacies makes our society stronger. Thank you for being part of this extraordinary community.