Celebrating Black History Month at Gaynor in 2024

Posted on Monday, March 4th, 2024

February is Black History Month, and this year’s theme was “Black Americans and the Arts.” Throughout the month, Gaynor held activities for students and families to learn about and celebrate the history and culture of African Americans, particularly through the arts. 

On February 22, Director of DEI Stella Mulatu hosted two assemblies about Black History Month; one for the Purple through Yellow Clusters, and another for the Silver, Green, and Blue Clusters. The Yellow Cluster Chorus kicked off the assemblies with a beautiful rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” Then, Gaynor Librarian Dionne De Lancy quizzed the students on famous African Americans with a game of “Who Am I?” She gave the students clues such as when the person was born, major achievements, and what their initials are. The students did a great job, and guessed every person correctly!

The highlight of both of these assemblies were the performances from special guest Africa ForestDance. Africa ForestDance is a group of musicians and dancers who perform songs and use instruments from different regions in Africa. The instruments that they played during Gaynor’s assemblies included the mbira, an instrument similar to a kalimba where the player uses their thumbs to pluck the metal keys, the bala (or xylophone), and the djembe drum. These instruments can be found in South Africa, particularly the mbira, but also globally, such as the xylophone and djembe drum. The group performed songs from West Africa and South Africa, many of which included chanting, and various versions of call and response. They invited the students to get up and move, and taught them a little bit of a South African gumboot dance. Drama Specialist Meredith Akins even got a special shoutout for her incredible moves!

Then on February 28, the Blue Cluster BIPOC Affinity Group did a presentation on African Americans in the arts during the Blue Cluster Town Hall. Their presentation included different figures in different kinds of “arts,” including visual arts (dance, singing, acting), media arts (film and cinematography), literary arts, culinary arts, and more. They ended with a video about the importance of Black History Month, and the many things that African Americans have contributed to American history as a whole. They did a wonderful job speaking in front of their peers! 

Gaynor closed out the Black History Month celebrations with a quilting workshop open to the community on February 29. Facilitated by fabric artist Pat Mabry, the workshop was a great opportunity for attendees to showcase their creativity, and display what makes up the fabric of the Gaynor community’s quilt. You can read more about the event here. This was a wonderful Black History Month at Gaynor, and we are so thankful to everyone who organized and took part in the events!