Differences generate prejudice, and prejudice creates injustice. In a world full of differences, racial discrimination persists. It’s important to raise awareness, to remind people that everyone is different but the same.
Why do Black lives matter? How can there be “Justice and liberty for all” when hundreds of innocent black men have been murdered? What if this had happened to your ancestors?
For the majority of the day, Helena Pasquarella teaches OVS students French. But after class is over, she teaches them to be kind to each other. She wants to bring truth to people. In the past, she was a photographer for the Los Angeles Times. And most recently, she has become the leader of a group dedicated to celebrating Black History Month.
According to New York Times journalist George Yancy, February was officially recognized by Gerald Ford in 1976 as Black History Month. Ever since then, February has been a time to celebrate African-American achievements.
“I believe that we need to expose our community to the contributions and achievements of Black Americans to American society,” Ms. Pasquarella said. “For far too long, Blacks Americans have been overlooked for their positive contributions to American society. Especially recently with more white supremacist ideology being promoted and accepted by the general population, I felt it was necessary to bring up these issues in an open forum.”
Many students joined the group to follow the footsteps of Ms. Pasquarella and to acknowledge the racial injustice both in the past and at present.
Senior Claire Alexander is a member of this team.
“It’s nice to have a Leap [the period designated for student activities each week] that establishes awareness towards the fact that people had to go through a tedious process just to be accepted for who they were,” Claire said. “We make posters that help remind how much of an impact people like Martin Luther King have on the society we live in today.”
“We created posters talking about important topics throughout black history,” said sophomore Violet Ruby, another member of the Black History Month Leap. “Like the protest surrounding natural black hair and how thousands of girls have been sent home for their ‘distracting’ hair.”
With these allies, Ms. Pasquarella has successfully put together an exhibit of the posters.
“We want to highlight the positive contributions of Black Americans because they have been neglected for far too long,” Ms. Pasquarella said.Share