Black History Month originally started as a week in February, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
In 1976, several years after one of ASALH’s founders, Carter G. Woodson, died, the week became Black History Month.
At the Martin Luther King Assembly, on Feb. 16, 25 or more Students for Action and Awareness (SAA) members performed songs, poetry and dance. The assembly used to have the same songs and skits in it every year, according to drama teacher Todd Schaefer, who is in charge of the assembly. Now, SAA builds a new show every year.
“A long time ago…I believe since the early 70s,” said Schaefer, about when the assembly first began. They only had a few rehearsals before the MLK Assembly to practice.
“I am always so proud of the kids involved for putting so much time and effort into the assembly,” said Schaefer.
Also, on Feb. 10, the varsity basketball team dressed in the purple and gold of Douglass School Panthers. Douglass School was an elementary school, middle school and high school. Douglass High School was the only accredited African American high school in St. Louis County.
In 1956, the high school part was closed due to the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, and the students integrated with Webster Groves High School. The rest of the Douglass School closed in 1978. The school is now an apartment complex for senior citizens.
The team originally dressed in the colors on Feb. 12, 2008, to celebrate Black History Month.
Some events that celebrate Black History aren’t in February. The Martin Luther King March to Steger happens on the day of or the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day.
About 100 marchers came from the different communities in St. Louis to Webster Groves City Hall to march, and about 300 came to the program afterwards.
At the assembly senior Myia Croft spoke about the Webster Challenge and its progress.
Webster Challenge is a high school program to close the achievement gap between black students and white students, said Stacey Thompson, a co-sponsor. So far, 201 students participate in it.
“I feel we’ve made great strides,” said Thompson, on the progress on the students.