Throughout February, Nueva celebrated Black History Month with a series of special assemblies, performances, and discussions focused on the rich contributions of African-Americans in our community and beyond.
The theme of our Black History Month celebration in Hillsborough has been The Radiant Child — inspired by a children's book about Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the best-known African-American contemporary artists, who discovered his extraordinary talent for painting as a youth.
At a special assembly on Friday, February 9, we celebrated radiance in our Nueva community. Students learned about the childhoods of notable African-Americans and their early journeys to identify their own talents, and their academic and creative passions.
Nueva parent, former lead designer for Jordan Brand, and current CEO of Super Heroic, Jason Mayden, shared the story of his life and work with our students and faculty.
At a panel discussion held after the assembly, US Attorney and Nueva parent Chinhayi Coleman Cadet’s message to our students was to follow their own passions and curiosities wherever they lead. “I knew when I was about 12 years old that I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said.
After hearing a story on the evening news that upset her, Chinhayi’s mother sat her down and explained that from her perspective, “A lot of times in our society, there are people who are not cared about as much as others.”
“I thought to myself, ‘How can that be legal? How can that be right? I really want to learn about the law.’ That is when I started to view the law as the cornerstone of our society,” said Chinhayi. “If you don’t have rules that everyone needs to follow, it becomes pandemonium and people can be treated unfairly or not get the opportunity they deserve,” she said to a large round of applause from the assembled students and fellow panelists.
“I think what is missing in the world is that we are not listening to each other,” said Nicole Alston, Nueva parent and VP of Legal at YouTube. “The division that exists in the world today is very much a result of people burrowing into their own world and their own experiences and not listening to others,” she said to snaps of enthusiastic agreement from our students.
Nicole added, “If you listen and really hear what other people are saying, that is what opens up understanding, and with understanding comes power.”
Building off the Radiant Child theme, the Upper School honored Black History Month through the lens of Radiance through Struggle.
Our community meeting was led by students, who presented on their understanding of dominant music genres that come from the black community. Their goal was to provide context and understanding to the narratives that are embedded within the music that many of us consume.
From hip hop to jazz, artists and the origin of their music were explored, with a listening playlist integrated throughout the meeting.
Starting with a schoolwide Kahoot! and ending with a music video created by the Social Justice League covering Beyonce’s Freedom, the time spent was both interactive and informative.
Nueva sophomore Quincy A. closed, saying, “There is both celebration and struggle within the black experience. Today we chose to celebrate what we love about black culture and our hope is that this conversation continues on past today. With it being Valentine’s Day, we see this as our love letter to the black community.”
On the Thursday before our February break, students across all divisions were treated to a series of performances and workshops with the body percussion and dance group Molodi.
In special assemblies for each division, the group taught students and faculty about step dance and its roots in black fraternities. Their energetically intense and soulful performances got everyone on their feet and moving — the embodiment of our "learn by doing" approach.
Throughout the month, displays curated by our librarians and parents provided students with resources to learn more about African-American history and celebrate their individual and collective contributions across every aspect of American life.
2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly
By Jim Morrison, VLP Director
February 28, 2018