Celebrating Black History Month

An inspiring wall of 21 iconic Black Americans can be found outside of Ashley Walter’s classroom.
Posted on 02/14/2022
Images and quotes of iconic Black Americans and adorn a wall outside Ashley Walter's classroom in the Sixth Grade Center. By Gary Weckselblatt

Ashley Walter figured just outside her classroom would be a perfect place to decorate the nearby wall with inspiring quotes from famous Black Americans.

“It’s something kids walk by every day and can see everything that they accomplished,” said Ms. Walter, autism and emotional support teacher at the Sixth Grade Center. “It’s awesome when I see them actually take the time to read them or point out the people they know.”

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Teachers throughout the Quakertown Community School District bring their unique perspective to that observance.

Ms. Walter, for example, chose 21 successful figures across a wide variety of spectrums to highlight for students. The notable icons include Maya Angelou, Medgar Evers, Barbara Jordan, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama, Nelson Mandela, Gordon Parks, Katherine Johnson, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marsha P. Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks, Arthur Ashe, Mae Jemison, Florence Griffith Joyner, Kobe Bryant, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens.

“I wanted to do something that supports inclusion,” she said. “Some are important people the kids know, and all are an important part of our history.”

Erika Studer, an English Language Development teacher at the SGC, appreciate Ms. Walter’s effort. “It gives our students an opportunity to think about and recognize that there’s been African-American excellence throughout history and all sorts of professions, and these people aren’t always highlighted.”

Camryn Stillwell, a student with the Social Justice Alliance, said she enjoyed looking at the photo illustrations and quotes of the people Ms. Walter put up on the wall. “People in the Black community, it seems their voices are silenced and they need to be heard,” Camryn said. “I’m glad we have stuff like that so people can learn more about all different kinds of people.”

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month during the country's bicentennial. Prior to that “Negro History Week” was celebrated the second week of February because it includes the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Gayle Quinton, the school’s librarian, said displays recognizing the accomplishments of Black Americans is something that can help students. “It’s about exposing kids to people who have been successful,” she said, “and generating thoughts and ideas that may inspire them.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].

An inspiring wall with illustrations and quotes of 21 iconic Black Americans adorns a wall outside of Ashley Walter's classroom in the Sixth Grade Center.
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