Monthly Spotlight: Black History Month (February)
Each February WISH celebrates Black History Month, highlighting the accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made to the scientific, legal, education, athletic, art, music, and social justice fabric of our country – something we do year-round but shine a brighter spotlight in February.
We believe teaching our children about Black History Month and the many important African American influencers and contributors continue to move our society forward. By teaching them to respect the history, culture, and accomplishments of African Americans, they will be more aware and more accepting of everyone within our highly diverse country.
Throughout the month our students will learn about the Black women and men who have shaped our society and culture. This will occur in the core curriculum as well as through music, art, and the written word. Below is a list of upcoming events, efforts, and resources for our entire community to be a part of this annual WISH tradition.
Please click below to view our very special Welcome Video featuring students and staff
“The Lived Experience of Black Leaders at WISH” Panel Discussion
to rewatch moderator and WISH parent Tre’Shawn Hall Baker along with MS English teacher Victoria Phillips, 4th Grade Parent Jennifer Thomas, and WISH Facilities Manager Lawrence Shelton share their own experiences and the matters that are important to them.
Stories in the Spotlight
Celebrating influential Black voices from the past and the present, in the areas of science, social justice, sports, and culture. Read below to learn more about these great Americans.
"For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it, if only we're brave enough to be it." This sentence thrust Amanda Gorman
, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history and current National Youth Poet Laureate, into the global conversation. An award-winning writer, cum laude graduate of Harvard University, and a Westchester local, Amanda stirred a nation and inspired a generation at the recent inauguration. We hope Amanda's love of writing excites all of our writers to reach new heights. Her picture book, "Change Sings," and book of poetry, "The Hill We Climb," arrives in September and available for pre-order now.
Victor J. Glover Jr. This California native and highly decorated Naval Officer is the first African American to have an extended stay at the International Space Station, currently flying over our heads sixteen times each day. He was born on April 30, 1976, and grew up in Pomona, California. He attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering in 1999. Glover joined the US Navy and completed advanced flight training in 2001. He had a decorated career in the Navy, accumulating 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft over 400 carrier-arrested landings and 23 combat missions for the Navy. In 2012, he served as a legislative fellow on the late Senator John McCain’s staff. During this time, Glover was selected for the 2013 NASA Astronaut Group. He is currently serving as a pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched November 15, 2020. He is the first African American to have an extended duration mission aboard the International Space Station. Click here to learn more about Victor Glover, and follow him on Twitter @AstroVicGlover for up-to-date posts of his adventures on the Space Station.
Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818–1891) is an American hero who was a founding mother of Downtown Los Angeles. Born enslaved, she became one of the first prominent citizens and landowners in Los Angeles in the 1860s. She also founded the First Af
rican Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. In California, she successfully petitioned a court for her freedom and quickly used her skills as a midwife and nurse for her livelihood. She saved her money and purchased land in what is now the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Mason became one of the wealthiest landowners in the city. She supported charities that helped feed and shelter the poor while also being instrumental in founding an elementary school for Black children. To learn more, visit the Biddy Mason Memorial Park downtown.
Dr. Keith Curry is the President and CEO of Compton College and believes that “Every student is a success story”. Dr. Keith Curry, CEO of the Compton Community College District and president of Compton College, has earned many awards for his leaders
hip and vision in Compton and for every student in his network. Compton College was accredited in 2017 as the 114th California Community College. Under his leadership, many existing student services programs have been expanded and others created including the First Year Experience (FYE) program, and the Tartar Support program established in 2017 to offer a food pantry and other support for students facing food and housing insecurities. In addition, the Formerly Incarcerated Students in Transition (F.I.S.T.) program was established in fall 2016. Other positive outcomes in recent years include an increased number of degrees and certificates awarded; increased student enrollment and transfers; new full-time faculty members hired; new state-funded construction projects completed; and a balanced budget with a reserve. In Dr. Curry’s words, “Every student can be successful with the right academic and support services. I want students to feel special and at home here at Compton College.” Dr. Curry earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Kamala Harris is the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American Vice President of the United States of America. Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a law degree from Hastings College, she worked as an assistant district attorney in Oakland. She quickly rose through the ranks to become the first woman and first African American Attorney General of California in 2010. She proved to be a strong voice within the law and a stand out for political office. In 2016 she successfully ran for the US Senate, winning the seat held by Barbara Boxer in California. She was the first Indian American and the second African American woman in the Senate. She attempted to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020, which Joe Biden won, and he picked her as his Vice Presidential running mate soon after. They were both inaugurated into their positions on January 20, 2021. Read more about Kamala Harris on the official White House website.
Kehinde Wiley a native Angeleno and Yale-educated artist may be considered akin to Lin Manuel Miranda in the visual arts world! Born in 1977 in Los Angeles, Kehinde Wiley is famous for using Old Master European portrait paintings as the basis for his contemporary paintings featuring African American sitters. His striking compositions that uplift African American individuals to a majestic status has helped to flip long-outdated art historical expectations of portraiture on a grand scale. Wiley’s trailblazing work has garnered him many accolades and exhibitions, and some of his paintings can be found in museum collections around the world. In 2017 he was commissioned to paint the official portrait of former President Barack Obama in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and which will travel, along with Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama, to LACMA in November 2021. Click here to learn more about Kehinde Wiley.
Kizzmekia Corbett is the lead scientist working on the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine. Kizzmekia was born on January 26, 1986, in North Carolina, where she grew up in a large family. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences and sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She later received her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently an American viral immunologist at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (one of the 27 National Institutes of Health). She was appointed to the VRC in 2014, and she is currently the scientific lead of the VRC's Coronavirus team and was instrumental in developing the COVID-19 vaccine. In December 2020, the Institute's Director, Anthony Fauci, said: “Kizzy is an African American scientist who is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.” Click here to learn more about Kizzmekia Corbett.
Theodore “Ted” Lumpkin is a local hero who served in WWII in the all-black unit called the Tuskeegee Airmen! He was born in 1919 in Los Angeles, graduated from Jefferson High School, attended LA City College and was studying at UCLA when the Army drafted him in 1942. He was assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron of an all-Black unit based in Tuskegee, Alabama. Because his eyesight wasn’t good enough to be a pilot, he trained
as an intelligence officer and was a 2nd lieutenant. He briefed pilots before bombing missions, and de-briefed them after their return, based in Italy. The Tuskegee Airmen were in much demand as they were known for their valor, and perfect record of never losing a bomber they were escorting and protecting on missions. On returning from the War, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USC. He worked for many years as a social worker. He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. Later in life he owned his own real estate company. The Tuskegee Airmen received Congress’ highest civilian recognition in 2007 with the Congressional Gold Medal. He died at age 100 in December 2020, just a few days before his 101st birthday. He lived in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of LA for the last 30 years of his life.
Below are a number of resources about Black History Month to share with your children at home to learn about the accomplishments of famous and lesser-known African-Americans, including videos, works of art, literary works, community businesses, and much more.
Museums and Online Events