Black History Month. Black History Always.
At KIPP SoCal we celebrate Black History Month in order to galvanize a community of leaders and students for freedom. We believe Black Lives Matter and the purpose of education is liberation. We teach a critical analysis of history that analyzes bias, questions dominant narratives, centers Black perspectives across the African diaspora, and explores the critical impact of activism on social change. We promote counter-narratives of Black experiences in order to actively resist anti-blackness that has existed in schooling practices.
- Jose Moreno, 6th Grade Science Teacher KIPP Comienza Community Prep: Dr. Tyson, currently the Director of the Hayden Planetarium, has the innate gift of guiding curiosity and inspiring people of walks of life to love how much we do not know about the universe. He provides an avenue for careful and critical thinking at each of his talks, a noteworthy statement for someone that is able to passionately able to merge astrophysics with the meaning of life. If you have ever questioned how much we do not know about the universe, it is encouraged to watch Cosmos. I promise you, you will want to watch all episodes and then read all of his books. This is the science way - "I have a new way of understanding the world! Now, I question everything."
- Mario Rojas, 7th Grade Science Teacher, KIPP Scholar Academy: Henrietta Lacks: Important to note about Henrietta Lacks - her cells have made a huge contribution to the research field AND their use is fraught with ethics issues because she never consented to their use. And Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett - Immunologist who helped design the Moderna vaccine.
- Emily Vogelsong, Science Specialist: One of the scientists that I really admire is Dr. Ruth Jones, who is a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. She's completely brilliant and works for NASA (which is my nerd dream) and does so much community-based work, including mentoring girls.
- Aisha B. (KIPP School Leader in Residence): Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc.- their mission to combat and counter acts of violence, create space for Black imagination and innovation, and center Black joy is inspiring to me. I want to continue to educate myself and learn more about how to unpack and heal from my own experiences as a Black woman in America.
- Alfredo C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Athletic Director): I wouldn't say a organization but I support all the individuals who are putting their life on the line to make change. There are people out on the front lines who do not belong to a certain organization but know what is happening in the world isn't ok. I want to say thank you to them all for fighting for Black lives because we need everyone to make a change.
- Caprecia Y. (KIPP Vida Prep, Teacher): InPDum because the organization focuses on establishing black power and using that power to obtain resources for all African peoples
- Chantal A. (KIPP Scholar Academy, 6th Grade English Teacher): Until Freedom is the organization from Activist Tamika D. Mallory where they believe that those closest to the pain are closest to the solution, therefore, they focus on investing in those who are the most directly impacted by cyclical poverty, inequality, and state violence.
- Chinedu U. (KIPP Empower Academy, School Leader): Black Lives Matter is a wonderfully progressive organization. Their revolutionary focus on the importance of ALL Black Lives like LGBTQ Black lives is an expansive inclusiveness that speaks to the diversity of the Black experience and the ultimate vision for the world that I want. Its founding by black women, its openness to youth, its clear principals and commitments are all reasons why it is such a strong organization and why I support it.
- Courtney R. (KIPP Empower Academy, Dean): The Debra-Saunders White Foundation. DSW works to ensure that the future intellectual landscape includes the lives of the most vulnerable in society by leveraging the impact and esteem of its namesake, Dr. Debra Saunders-White, to establish and develop educational programs and scholarships that honor the advancement of young people of color.
- Danee O. (KIPP Ignite Academy, Dean): Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. - I am a member of this organization because of the legacy leadership service. It is an 113th year old organization that raises millions for HBCU's, pushes legislation concerning racial justice, provides scholarships to Af Am students, and supports/spotlights black businesses & economic literacy.
- Dominique E. (KIPP Comienza Community Prep, Lead Teacher): Black Lives Matter because their goal is to reimagine a world where violence is not inflicted on Black people and creating space for Black joy, innovation, and imagination.
Edana S. (KIPP Raíces Academy, 3rd Grade Teacher):I support #BLM because I am a Black Woman and I matter! My voice matters! My ideas matter! My life matters! I support #BLM because we live in a world where the N-word is still used with malice and where I have been called an "Angry Black Woman" because of my passion for fighting against injustices. I support #BLM because when Obama was our First Black President, they wanted to hang him just for being black. I support #BLM because when Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest over police killings, he was blacklisted and called unpatriotic. I support #BLM because I am a mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and cousin of other black people and guess what?...They matter! I support BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period!
Keira L. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Physical Education Teacher): I support the Poverty & Race Research Action Council because the work they are doing is aimed to help promote research-based advocacy strategies on issues of structural racial inequality. They also aim to help create policies for housing, education, and environmental justice that help dismantle the systems of racial segregation.
- Kyndl C. (KIPP SoCal, Behavioral Specialist): I support the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP is a civil rights organization that has always been on the frontlines (right side of history) advancing justice for African Americans.
- Latoya L. (KIPP Pueblo Unido, Music & Movement Specialist): I support Black Lives Matter because they strive to put an end to white supremacy, systemic racism, and affirm all lives.
- Phonecia C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Special Education Assistant): I support Until Freedom because I believe in fighting for justice where there is none and they really reach out to the younger generation to get involved.
- Reco S. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Business Operations Manager): Pushblack.us: this media company produces a podcast called Black History Year that has taught me so much about history and how it connects to the ongoing struggle against white supremacy
- Sakhalin F. (KIPP Academy of Innovation, Science Teacher): Iota Phi Lambda Sorority - Women Scholarships for College, Financial Empowerment, Tutoring, Business Attire and Interview, Financial, Food & Clothes donations, School Supply Donations
- Sylas Harvey (RSP Teacher): NCNW National Council of Negro Women and African American churches
- Tiffany Moore (KIPP Scholar Academy, School Leader): KIPP Scholar Academy: Our teachers are dedicated to becoming an anti-racist school that is equitable. We are committed to the long-term work of becoming a school of liberation for all. We are a community center, filled with community leaders and organizers who are supporting Black and Brown people with resources, love and education.
- Aisha B. (KIPP School Leader in Residence): Soul Food- my mom's fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collards greens, and cornbread. Honestly ANYTHING my mom cooks feels like home :)
- Alfredo C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Athletic Director): Hmmmm I would have to say Mac n Cheese. This is a staple in my household. Whoever makes the best has bragging rights!! Also it has to be baked!
- Caprecia Y. (KIPP Vida Prep, Teacher): Banana pudding!
- Chantal A. (KIPP Scholar Academy, 6th Grade English Teacher): All the recipes that have been passed down to me from my elders are my favorites. The one I love most is macaroni and cheese.
- Chinedu U. (KIPP Empower Academy, School Leader): Jollof Rice. As an Igbo American, there is nothing that says home like Jollof rice.
- Courtney R. (KIPP Empower Academy, Dean): Grandma's potato salad with all the things!
- Danee O. (KIPP Ignite Academy, Dean): Corn pudding!
- Dominique E. (KIPP Comienza Community Prep, Lead Teacher): Collard greens! The care and time it takes to cook good greens is unmatched. When my mom or grandma makes them, I feel loved and right at home.
- Edana S. (KIPP Raíces Academy, 3rd Grade Teacher): Good old fashion homemade macaroni and cheese with crispy edges for crunching. Dessert, it's all about sweet potato pie!
- Keira L. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Physical Education Teacher): Sweet potato pie (My mom makes the best!)
- Kyndl C. (KIPP SoCal, Behavioral Specialist): Cajun Cuisine is my families favorite food. Jambalaya, Étouffée, and Gumbo is a perfect blend of West African, French, and Spanish cooking techniques that have resonated within my families culture for years.
- Latoya L. (KIPP Pueblo Unido, Music & Movement Specialist): Sweet Potato Pie!
- Phonecia C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Special Education Assistant): Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Reco S. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Business Operations Manager): My mom's mac and cheese! It will always remind me of family and home.
- Sakhalin F. (KIPP Academy of Innovation, Science Teacher): Sweet Potato Pie!
- Sylas Harvey (RSP Teacher): Gumbo and hot water corn bread!
- Tiffany Moore (KIPP Scholar Academy, School Leader): There are so many delicious foods, but sweet potato pie is my favorite. My aunt taught me how to make it and I make a slammin' sweet potato pie!
- Aisha B. (KIPP School Leader in Residence): Prince- he was such a phenomenal performer, writer, and musician. His music evokes ALL the emotions and makes me feel human. He created experiences with his music and was unapologetic in his blackness and his art.
- Alfredo C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Athletic Director): J cole is defintely my favorite rap artist. I love his music because it's very inspiring. He talks about his story and what his experience was like growing up. How he carries himself as a artist as well is something I love about him. He is humble and very laid back.
- Caprecia Y. (KIPP Vida Prep, Teacher): Kendrick Lamar because his music is inspirational
- Chantal A. (KIPP Scholar Academy, 6th Grade English Teacher): My favorite Black musician is Erykah Badu. She was my first experience with a Black woman on TV embracing her Blackness with such grace and I was intrigued. She still remains my favorite artist because of that lasting impression she made on me.
- Chinedu U. (KIPP Empower Academy, School Leader): SAULT has an amazing collection of music that focuses on the black experience, black freedom, self love and revolution.
- Courtney R. (KIPP Empower Academy, Dean): Yara Shahidi! Yara is a trailblazer, pioneer and innovator with a cultural and social impact both on and off the screen as an actress. She's worked to give back to the Los Angeles community by partnering with the the U.N. to create a mentoring program with the Young Women’s Leadership Network and has been recognized by the NAACP for her work as a humanitarian in South LA. What's not to love about a young, fierce, change-maker!
- Danee O. (KIPP Ignite Academy, Dean): Toni Morrison.
- Dominique E. (KIPP Comienza Community Prep, Lead Teacher): Beyoncé, of course. I love that she explores and celebrates so many sides of her identity. She is unapologetically Black.
- Edana S. (KIPP Raíces Academy, 3rd Grade Teacher): Hands down...BEYONCE KNOWLES CARTER! I could listen to her all day. I think what I most love about her is her ability to bring the masses together. She has raw talent and a work ethic like no other! Her vocal range is out of this world and we won't even talk about her sense of fashion, because it is amazing!
- Keira L. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Physical Education Teacher): H.E.R.- she is a singer, poet, and musician. I love how she tells stories with her music. She sings and recite poetry about love, injustice, and so things that really will touch your heart.
- Kyndl C. (KIPP SoCal, Behavioral Specialist): I would like to shed light on the artist/song writer Marvin Gaye. He challenged and addressed controversial political themes of oppression and foresaw future events through music. Marvin was a true visionary that was a voice for the black community.
- Latoya L. (KIPP Pueblo Unido, Music & Movement Specialist): Jonathan McReynolds is my favorite Black artist because his songs speak to me, lift my spirit, and... well he's a dope singer! I wish I sounded as amazing as him.
- Phonecia C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Special Education Assistant): Maya Angelou and Gordon Parks. I loved that they were multitalented artist , (Angelou a poet, dancer, and actress Parks a writer and photographer)
- Reco S. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Business Operations Manager): Sam Cooke: his voice is so iconic and his song "A Change is Gonna Come" was the first song I heard that spoke directly to my heart as a young black man.
- Sakhalin F. (KIPP Academy of Innovation, Science Teacher): Marian Anderson - She was the first African American singer to perform at the White House and also the first African American to sing with New York's Metropolitan Opera.
- Sylas Harvey (RSP Teacher): Jill Scott, Alvin Ailey, Toni Morrison. I love Jill's story telling and acting. I enjoy the beautiful dances of black artist and the story they tell with their body. I love the picture Toni paints with her words.
- Tiffany Moore (KIPP Scholar Academy, School Leader): Richard Wright is my favorite author. He was my grandmother's cousin and is a part of my family tree. I read Native Son as an adult and am absolutely in love with his writing.
Top: 'Hope' by Karma G., 'The Colors of the World' by Ashley, 'When Will This End,' by Charity N.
Middle: 'All the Opportunities,' by Charity N, 'Black History Month' by Isaiah R.
Bottom: 'Conquering the World,' By Charity N., 'African Woman,' by Ashley, 'African Woman with Head Wrap,' by Gabriela V.
Our KIPPsters' Expressions through Art
Sometimes the simplicity of expressing yourself through art is the best way to communicate; our talented and artistic KIPP Academy of Opportunity KIPPsters certainly know that.
Check out their incredible works of art themed around Black History Month and their sentiments of inspiration below:
- Ashley, KIPP Academy of Opportunity Alumni: I drew this artwork for all of our KAO students to see everyday to remind us that we shouldn’t be discriminated against because of the color of our skin.
- Charity, KIPP Academy of Opportunity Alumni: For this Black History Month/ Black Lives Matter piece, I drew George Floyd and wrote the names of African Americans who tragically lost their lives by law enforcement officers. I wanted the image of George Floyd to be the focal point because his case was the world’s focus and wrote the names in the background to show that incidents such as his, have occurred countless times. This ties into the phrase, “When Will This End,” because social injustice has always been an issue and I wonder if there will be a day where systematic racism will case to exist.
- Karma, KIPP Academy of Opportunity Alumni: This is a young African American female who is growing up through all this chaos in the hood and struggling to find her voice. In our society, she feels like she has to put a certain type of face and is looking forward for hope in her future.
- Isaiah, KIPP Academy of Opportunity:
I did this artwork because I think African Americans made a huge impact in the world, for example Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, and many more. I felt like I was going to help improve society when I made this like if I helped African Americans and Latinos. I would like to inspire younger kids because I want to feel like a leader to them and when they help they can come to me.
What is your favorite children's story that reflects the Black experience?
Literature where Black protagonists take the lead creates a world that elevates all voices. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up top selects from our team’s favorites that have inspired them -- teaching universal lessons about racism, diversity, equality and justice, "written by people who look like me, with stories filled with others who look like me" Feel free to check out our team's top picks:
- Aisha B. (KIPP School Leader in Residence): Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker. Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker- mainly because my 2 sons absolutely love it! They are excited to turn the pages and see little boys that look like them doing the same things they love to do-- play with toy trucks, be superheroes, and SMILE! It's short, simple, and means so much to them.
- Alfredo C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Athletic Director): Shoutout to Mr. T. This book was very very good. It reflected the black experience by showing how the character in the book did not receive justice when he passed away. He came back as a ghost and was able to see how life went on after his death.
- Caprecia Y. (KIPP Vida Prep, Teacher): Sulwe by Lupita Nyongo. Sulwe by Lupita Nyongo because it celebrates the beauty of being a dark skinned girl and the multifaceted features of being black.
- Chantal A. (KIPP Scholar Academy, 6th Grade English Teacher): The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. "The Skin I'm In" by Sharon G. Flake is a realistic fiction novel for pre-teens that explores the experience of a bright 7th grade girl where through her narration she tells the story of her struggles with low self-esteem because of her dark skin color. As a dark skin woman, who bared the same struggles as a dark skin girl, this book spoke to me and I pass it along to my students at any opportunity I get.
- Chinedu U. (KIPP Empower Academy, School Leader): Sulwe has a great message of self love and beautiful illustrations.
- Courtney R. (KIPP Empower Academy, Dean): Hair Love by Matthew Cherry. Hair Love - Matthew Cherry. I love that Hair Love highlights the relationship between a Black father and daughter. It reminds me of the relationship that I have with my dad and the impact that his love has on my life.
- Danee O. (KIPP Ignite Academy, Dean): Amazing Grace by Hannah N. Asfaw. My mother read it to me as a girl stands as a reminder that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
- Dominique E. (KIPP Comienza Community Prep, Lead Teacher): Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. It’s an appreciation of both of city living and the power of your imagination to take you anywhere.
- Edana S. (KIPP Raíces Academy, 3rd Grade Teacher): The Color Purple by Alice Walker & Roots by Alex Haley: when I was in the 6th grade I was given permission to read "The Color Purple by Alice Walker," and although not my personal experience directly, it opened up my mind to search out other prominent stories about the black experience. After that, I devoured Alex Haley's book, "Roots". I enjoyed reading these books even though they were filled with violence, loss of innocence, and destruction. I was thankful at finally being exposed to literature written by people that looked like me, with stories filled with others that also looked like me.
- Keira L. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Physical Education Teacher): Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman - I remember this being one of my favorite books as I kid. I read it over and over, and what I loved most about this story was that Grace looked like me and how her Mom and Nana empowered her with the statement "You can be anything you want..if you put your mind to it."
- Kyndl C. (KIPP SoCal, Behavioral Specialist): I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. The book "I Have a Dream" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a book that I admired during childhood. The book detailed the famous, "I have a dream" speech that was created to disable segregation and bring America together in harmony.
- Latoya L. (KIPP Pueblo Unido, Music & Movement Specialist): Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkeyes. My favorite story is Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale Of A Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney because it shares the story of the amazing jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. It describes her life as an orphan in Harlem all the way to her 1947 sold out performance at Carnegie Hall. It's an inspiring and beautiful story about reaching your dreams. #blackgirlmagic
- Phonecia C. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Special Education Assistant): The Little Bill Book Series
- Reco S. (KIPP Corazón Academy, Business Operations Manager): Crown by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
- Sakhalin F. (KIPP Academy of Innovation, Science Teacher): Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People by Sarah Bradford. Harriet Tubman "Black Moses Of Her Race" - She escaped slavery and returned to free other slaves. She served as a nurse and spy for the Union and was buried with honors.
- Tiffany Moore (KIPP Scholar Academy, School Leader): Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale Book by John Steptoe I fell in love with this book when I was a kid watching Reading Rainbow. My boys like it as well.