FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — There’s a program in Fresno high school that is developing leaders and it’s run by girls, who have stepped forward, to try and bring a change in curriculum and to better reflect how our history is presented.
Students from Fresno Unified put together a ‘virtual program’ to celebrate black history month, which is marked each February. But a student advisory committee in the district would like to see ‘black history’ taught all year long.
“Our history shouldn’t be an elective. I shouldn’t have to stay after school to learn about me. It should be a class,” said Roosevelt High School student Danyell Booker.
Eight young women lead the Black Student Union Advisory committee at high schools in Fresno Unified. It was formed last year, after the death of George Floyd.
Their advisor is Lisa Nichols.
“Students needed a safe place to be able to come and talk about how they were feeling and to have a place where they weren’t going to be judged for being angry and upset and sad,” said Nichols.
They took their sadness and anger and channeled it into a campaign to add black history to the curriculum, year-round. They produced a public service announcement and they designed a t-shirt with the help of a black-owned business and community partner called Mad Illustrators.
The students want more discussion in the classroom of the challenges of being a student of color and they want to help get it started.
“Many of us have said they don’t want to have this conversation or they don’t know how to have this conversation, but if you talk they will listen,” said Edison High School student Ariana Mikel.
They’ve learned – they have a support system they never dreamed of – that is encouraging them to be leaders after high school.
“What this group taught me is sisterhood and know that you have people behind you that will stand for you and really care about your education and really give you the knowledge that you have,” said Sunnyside High School student Jaquaila Whitake.