Onyx Leads Milton in Celebration of Black History
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 24th, 2012
In honor of Black History Month, Nicole Rufus (I) and Bright Osajie (I), the Co-Heads of Onyx, have worked with the other members of the club to plan a number of celebratory events including movie nights, a Hip-Hop master class, possibly a “Hair Symposium” to discuss all types of hair and the best products, and an upcoming chapel service devoted to discussing important African-American figures in History. The first big event hosted by Onyx was the assembly on Wednesday February 15 in which Ms. White-Hammond spoke about her history and important world issues.
Ms.White-Hammond lived in Roxbury—a neighborhood of Boston—during high school, and though she lived a privileged life, attending Winsor and Stanford, drugs and violence were still prevalent in her community. She said it was “like living in two different worlds.”
During high school, Ms. White-Hammond became involved in her community and one day received a call from Project HIP-HOP (Highways Into the Past – History, Organizing, and Power), asking if she wanted to go on a “free trip” where she would learn about the Civil Rights Movement. She said, “I was mostly enticed by the free trip,” but this novelty led her to learn about the Civil Rights Movement and eventually pursue a job at Project HIP-HOP.
During the Assembly, Ms. White-Hammond demonstrated the inequality in the world through the “step forward, step back” exercise. Though people generally separate issues such as race and inequality into one category and world problems such as global warming into another, she stressed that racial differences, which often cause tension, need to be addressed in order for people to work together and effectively improve the world.
Ms. White Hammond’s presentation received mixed reviews. One student said, “I loved her. I loved the activity—it was fascinating. A little bit awkward, but fascinating.”
Other students gave the speaker more negative reviews, with one saying, “[The speaker] lacked focus”, and “I felt her presentation covered too many topics.”
A third student expressed discomfort in regard to the activity, saying that it “made the people at the front of the line feel awkward.”
Onyx member Kamyra Edokpolor (I), said Ms. White-Hammond, “highlighted some really important points; global warming, world disparity, economic crisis, youth violence, etc. Given there are a lot of problems to address, she did cover perhaps more than she could have thoroughly talked about.”
In regards to the “step forward” activity, Kamyra commented, ” The purpose of the exercise was not to make individuals feel awkward, ashamed, or guilty depending on where they ended up.” Ultimately, Kamyra related, “It was eye opening to see how very different, even in a privileged community such as Milton, our student body is.”
Ms. White-Hammond’s presentation, which emphasized the current needs for social progress, was only one of the many events taking place at Milton during Black History Month. Black history month is, of course, a time of year which reminds us not only of the progress which still must be made in many social areas, but of all the progress which has already been made. Nicole Rufus (I) summed up the importance of Black History Month by stating, “It is the one time of year when we are forced to stop and recognize past histories that you won’t really learn about in the classroom. It is a month where black kids especially can reflect on the successes of those who came before and be uplifted with the possibilities in their own lives.
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