Every February, the U.S. celebrates Black History Month to honor the contributions, sacrifices, and triumphs of its Black citizens. This year, Eighth Grade student McKinley H.-D. started the conversation with her Middle School Assembly speech about two black women who have influenced her life.
McKinley began by telling the story of blues singer and civil rights activist Billie Holiday. McKinley pointed out that the Civil Rights movement was not a single moment in time, but is rather an ongoing campaign of understanding, acknowledgment, and change that is still going on today. She spoke of the prejudice Billie Holiday faced in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, and how her song “Strange Fruit” about the terrible lynching of Black people had an impact on the struggle for civil rights. McKinley said, “The song not only moved people, white and black, but it awakened people to see the truth which began to change minds.”
McKinley then shared the story of one of her role models: Misty Copeland. Copeland is a ballet dancer and the first African American principal in American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. She began her career at 13-years-old and quickly found she had a special gift. Her talent, however, did not stop many from dismissing her since she did not fit the “traditional” look of a professional ballerina. Through hard work and determination, Ms. Copeland has since broken through these stereotypes and even started her own clothing line for dancers of all body types. She continues to dance and has empowered young women, like McKinley, to dream big. McKinley shared with her fellow students, “Misty Copeland opened my eyes to see that even though stereotypes and racism may be following you, if you keep on fighting and pushing for what you want, you can get it. She also gave me the chance to realize that by fighting for my rights I can help influence others as well."
Saint Patrick Catholic School is guided by the principles that “all are welcome” and that “no one falls outside the mantle of God’s love.” We are blessed by our diverse community and celebrate every Wolfhound for exactly who they are. Thank you to this Wolfhound student for bringing her perspective as a young biracial woman to this important conversation.