Black History Month Assembly Recap

Celebrating John’s Lewis’s Legacy

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On Thursday, February 12, NVOT held a virtual Black History Month assembly, to celebrate Congressman John Lewis, who passed away last July. It illustrated Lewis’s life story as he fought to gain equality for black people and his impact on society as a result. Students watched the 72-minute virtual assembly with their second-period classes and held discussions afterward. 

The virtual assembly featured several students’ reflections on how the assembly impacted them. Class president Kara Silverman was “truly honored to have the opportunity to speak about John Lewis’s legacy and his advocacy for civil rights” as  it “inspired [her] to speak up and advocate about [her] interpretation of good trouble.” To Silverman, good trouble “is witnessing something unjust and having the moral obligation to speak up and create change.” 

The assembly also included NJ Senator Cory Booker’s 2018 commencement speech to Franklin and Marshall College, in which he emphasized the need for kindness in a world where there is hatred. Senior Susan Dong said that she “was personally touched by the narrative Senator Booker shared. It demonstrated our shared history, but also our future–one with flaws but also one with the hope that institutions and systems can and will change, only if we’re willing to make those changes.” 

Faculty also expressed how Booker’s speech impacted them, especially since many were peers of Booker during their school years. English teacher Jennifer Dee said, “I cannot tell you how moving it is to be in my classroom in A222 listening to Senator Cory Booker deliver such an inspiring speech when 34 years ago he and I were classmates in that same classroom.”

Next, through an interview with Oprah Winfrey for Oprah’s Master Class, students were able to get a glimpse into the life of Lewis, highlighting the marches he helped lead throughout the South. Silverman said, “His advocacy as a Freedom Riders member helped inspire our country to challenge segregation and played a crucial role in this movement.” 

Dong said that “the grit, perseverance, and resilience of John Lewis is unparalleled, and I found that incredibly inspiring.”

Although the assembly was presented as a part of Black History Month, students and faculty also emphasized the need to celebrate black history every day. Track coach Brandon Gregory said, “The Celebration of Black History Month isn’t something to me that’s only for one month. Black excellence is year-round.” Gregory stated that “Black History, as well as the history of this country, is ever-changing and evolving,” but “change is a possibility. To me the most powerful tool that we as a society have is the ability to listen.” 

Dee stated that “The assembly is just a small part of that change, and I cannot wait to see the great work we can accomplish together when we all agree to make some good trouble.”