Anaheim Union celebrates Black History Month with students’ voices

AUHSD BHM Parade group
Anaheim Union High School District educators and students marched in the 43rd Black History Parade and Unity Festival on Feb. 4. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Renae Bryant)

Student voice is influencing the way the Anaheim Union High School District is recognizing and celebrating month-long observances like Black History Month

In the past, the district would create a single post to publish on its website and different social media accounts to spotlight and commemorate special observances. 

“One of our core values at AUHSD is student voice,” said John Bautista, the district’s public information officer. “We thought it would be more engaging and it would align with our core value of student voice by having our students describe what that individual means to them.”

Leading up to February, the district asked students across its schools and programs to submit names of pioneers or trailblazers they would like to recognize, along with a description detailing what that individual means to them. 

Bautista says he and his colleagues have been inspired by the replies and feedback from students.

Every day since Feb. 1, a post specifically for Black History Month has been published with an image and a student’s thoughts about the person.

Many students nominated well-known figures from history like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou. 

“I really respect Maya Angelou,” said eighth-grade student Marlieanne. “She really inspires me to be more positive.” 

However, middle and high school students also showed interest in modern-day influencers like songwriter and rapper Frank Ocean, singer Lizzo, Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele and the late actor Chadwick Boseman. 

“He encouraged children along with adults to follow their dreams and push forward,” said eighth-grader Rajah, an Orangeview Junior High School student. “He inspired young people and black people, letting them know there will be battles that try to stop us but keep pushing because it will all pay off in the end.”  

The recognition and celebration of black leaders and community didn’t end there. The teens marched with faculty and educators on Feb. 4 at the Orange County Heritage Council’s 43rd Black History Parade and Unity Festival in Anaheim. 

The district ended the month with its third annual Black History Month Celebration at Kennedy High School’s Performing Arts Center on Feb. 24. A pair of high school students served as co-hosts of the in-person event, which featured speakers and performers.