Black History Prospers Throughout School History


Carly Roach

For the March ASAP meeting, guest speaker Sylvester Chisom shares personal stories and entrepreneurial strategies in hopes of inspiring members of ASAP. “I met a room full of great leaders that day,” Chisom said. “It is my hope that they all take full advantage of everything this world has to offer. I hope they will use their success and influence to help others in their community the same way I tried to do when I met with them.”

For over almost 100 years, Black History Month has been celebrated throughout the month of February in the United States and in order to localize the national observance, librarian Brian Welch promoted African-American literature by showcasing African-American authors in the library.

“All cultures have different literature and different themes that they write about,” Welch said. “[So] this year we created a digital slideshow of African American literature for exploring the literature of this culture.”

In addition to the literature showcased at the library, the African-American Student Acceleration Program (ASAP) also shared the importance of the month among the African-American student body.

“ASAP started the month [off] by learning about the history of Black History Month and the theme of this year’s Black History Month-‘African Americans in Times of War’,” counselor and sponsor Carly Roach said. “At our 2nd ASAP meeting of the month, we [also] hosted two guest speakers to speak about ‘Passing the Torch’ to a younger generation of students of color.”

Education Technology Entrepreneur and guest speaker Sylvester Chisom addressed the African-American student body by passing on a message of encouragement and guidance.

“I wanted the audience to understand the importance of taking advantage of the resources available to them,” Chisom said. “Also, it was important to me that everyone understood the ideas they have are valuable and they should take massive action on their goals and dreams.”

Roach believes it is crucial for all people to celebrate Black History Month because of the hardships African-Americans have been through.

“Black History Month is important to celebrate because it highlights a people-group that have been left out of various historical accounts,” counselor and ASAP sponsor Carly Roach said. “It is [also] important to make a special acknowledgment to recognize our African Americans who for so many years endured extreme hardship and discrimination.”

Parkway celebrates Black History Month as a district by hosting the Spirit of Excellence award ceremony to recognize academic achievements of African-American students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

“The Spirit of Excellence program has allowed Parkway to recognize and honor African American student achievement and excellence for over 20 years,” Superintendent Keith Marty said. “It allows us to celebrate Black History Month in a very vivid and celebratory way.”

The ceremony has grown over the years and reached full capacity.

“The event started in a small venue and is now at Touhill on the campus of University of Missouri-St.Louis (UMSL),” Marty said. “The ceremony has grown from less than 50 students being honored to over 500 students recognized for their achievement this past February.”