The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Black History Month: Be Excellent By Supporting Black Excellence


Black History Month explores the history and culture of Black Americans, providing a time to reflect on the rich influence Black culture has on America, as well as the journey towards equality.

Black History Month was originally a week established in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson before expanding into a month-long celebration in 1976. Its significance lies in the acknowledgment of the contributions and experiences of Black individuals in shaping the cultural, social and economic landscape of the world.

Sophomore Lydie Boussoukou is a Black student at Niles West who cherishes Black History Month.

“It’s a month to focus and honor the black generations before us. Black History Month to me is a reminder to tell me that I am enough, that I am a human being, that my skin tone does not equal my intelligence, talent, personality,” Boussoukou said.

Niles West’s Black Student Union (BSU) has scheduled events throughout the month. The annual Black History Month assembly will be held on February 15, featuring the influence hip-hop and R&B have had in the music industry.

“I’m in the dance and I’m in the fashion show – we are showing where hip hop and fashion came from, the biggest people, the smallest people, the women in hip hop (since there are a lot of men) and how we got here,” sophomore Leah Maylor said.

BSU also hopes to host a Black Power Panel and intends to feature influential Black speakers.

“There is so much to be proud of when it comes to Black history, but I think there is so much that isn’t taught in schools,” senior and BSU president Anisa Sebaggala said.

Black students are a minority at Niles West, compared to Niles North. According to the Illinois Report Card, 5.8 percent of students at Niles West identify as Black, compared to  9.2 percent of North students.

“We already don’t have [as many] black students [as] North does, and it’s a time to come together and remember that we are here for one another, that we have others who are outside of our skin tone,” Boussoukou said.

This month’s celebrations are intended to help the entire community.

“Sometimes, speaking from experience, I feel isolated and not very comfortable in my blackness at times. It’s important to showcase just black joy during this month. It’s also important to give everyone a chance to learn and grow and educate themselves. Yes, there are those we learn about every single year, like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, but there are so many influential people that deserve to be talked about more,” Sebaggala said.

Black History Month events outside of Niles West include Northwestern’s all-month affairs, Black History Month Chicago Reparations Celebration on Feb. 24, Chicago Black Restaurant Week from Black-owned restaurants offering special deals from Feb. 11-25 and the American Writers Museum180 on Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free to the public.

Black History Month can also be celebrated by supporting non-profits in the area. Sarah’s Circle is a shelter in Chicago that supports Black and Brown women.

“Take the time to volunteer there, or even donate clothes and sanitary products,” Sebaggala said.

The Niles West Library invites students and staff to check out any number of books focused on Chicago’s Black history, currently on display near the entrance. “American Mafia Chicago” by William Griffit, “A Few Red Drops” by Claire Hartfield and “Sin in the Second City” by Karen Abbott round out the recommended reads.

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