African American Heritage Month 2021

African American Heritage Month 2021
February 22, 2021 GWHS

Traditionally, GW has hosted the African American Heritage Month Celebration where the whole school is let into the world of African American culture and experience through the performances of dance, spoken word, song, art, etc of their peers. This year, in honor of Black History Month, students have spent their time in Community Learning Seminar engaged in conversations about how imperative it is to learn about black and African American history and influencers beyond that of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Videos students watched highlighted the importance, while also opening up the discussion around examining the patriotism and contribution of African Americans to our country fulfilling its ideals and actualizing civil and human rights.

See the videos and discussion questions below:

We Are Patriots. We Are Black Excellence.

  • What do you think patriotism is and what it is not?
  • Why do you think that historically patriotism has tended to have a white face?
  • Why do you think that the civil and human rights struggle led by African-Americans in this country has been characterized as unpatriotic?

Our Patriot Voices

  • What is your initial reaction? 
  • What did you hear from your peers?
  • How can you be an ally for your peers?
  • How can we be social justice Patriots?

Black History is American History

  • How has black history been taught to you?
  • Why is it important to learn about black history beyond black history month?
  • What is the speaker’s overall message? 
  • In what ways did the African American’s mentioned in her speech help “revolutionize the way we live our daily lives?”
  • Okalani reflects on the fact that much of the black history she’d been taught was about the adversity of black and African Americans and their fight for civil rights. What is her argument about why it’s important to also learn about their contributions to America?
  • What part do culture and history play in the formation of our individual and collective identities?

The Hill We Climb

  • Discuss your initial reactions to Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem reading. 
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What did it make you think about?
  • What makes Amanda Gorman’s moment at the inauguration historical for black and African Americans? 
  • How is she a victor in history? 
  • What would you describe as her contribution to society?

The Amanda Gorman Affect

  • Winston Churchill was credited with saying “History is often written by the victor?” what is meant by this quote?
  • How does this relate to the way in which we are taught black history?
  • On the next slide, you’ll watch a video of poets reflecting on the impact of Amanda Gorman’s poem reading at the inauguration. Listen to what they describe as the “Amanda Gorman Effect” and discuss the following:
  • What makes Amanda Gorman’s moment at the inauguration historical for black and African Americans? 
  • How is she a victor in history? 
  • What would you describe as her contribution to society?

“Lift Every Voice and Sing“

  • Discuss your initial reactions after watching the video and listening to the song. 
  • When did you first learn about this song?
  • What is the overall message? 
  • What visuals did you notice? 
  • Why are the visuals relevant to the song?
  • How were the lyrics represented visually in the contemporary video
  • How does it specifically speak to the African-American experience? 
  • What does the song tell you about which ideals and values are cherished in the African-American community?


DPS Seniors: Thinking of applying to Historically Black Colleges/Universities this spring? You now can access the Common Black College Application (CBCA), which lets you apply to up to 60 HBCUs with one application — for free! Many CBCA applicants also receive thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Talk to your school counselor for the DPS access code, and learn more at: