Exploring Boundless Potential for Black History Month
“Boundless Potential: Paths to Identity, Belonging & Impact” was selected as this year’s Black History Month theme. Throughout February, Crescent students explored the stories, achievements and perspectives of Black communities through guest speakers, assemblies, Mentor Group discussions, and more. It was an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of Black Canadians who have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today.
Middle and Upper School students heard from Robert Small, a Toronto-based artist and the creator of the LEGACY Project posters. The posters—displayed in schools and businesses across the country—feature illustrations and stories of Black Canadians. In his talk, he alluded to the resistance and rebellion of African people who were being kidnapped into slavery, asking students to “think about the gaps in our history that are often not told.” He hopes to inspire young Black Canadians to see themselves in the trailblazers that appear in his poster series.
Kimberley Rampersad, Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, told Lower School students about how, in 2011, she was cast against type in a musical. She is “a Black and brown girl,” and the woman playing her sister was white. After an audience member commented loudly about her race, her scene partner showed support and helped Ms. Rampersad move past the uncomfortable moment. Rampersad urged students to understand that they can support people who are experiencing racism: “You are taught to be empathetic enough to say ‘Maybe I don’t experience [racism], but I care for you, and I’m showing up for you.’”
Crescent’s Black Student Alliance came together for a thought-provoking panel discussion at the end of February, with students sharing their personal experiences. “I come from a totally different world than ninety percent of the kids who go to this school,” said one student. “Just knowing you’re different has a big impact on how you carry yourself in order to be accepted.”
“For me, I’ve always been able to be myself [at school],” countered another. “I haven’t really had to change for anyone.” Others shared their ideas for what else could be done to make Crescent more inclusive for Black students, including having more Black mentors for students and having more Black history and culture woven into daily school life. Being surrounded by “good people” at Crescent helped one of the panel speakers develop his identity and be more authentic.
The Boundless Potential theme extended to a campaign on Crescent’s TV screens. It paid tribute to Black Crescent students and alumni who are having a measurable impact on the world and community around them.