Black History Month Assembly leaves lasting impression on crowd

Lindsey Nelson, Staff Writer

The annual Black History Month Assembly, created and showcased by a student-run committee, is often one of the most anticipated assemblies of the year. Last Friday, February 25 was no different with all of St. Pius X gathering to celebrate the end of Black History Month.

Led by Principal Dr. Edye Simpson, the student committee began compiling performances and planning the details in late January, but it was actuallyin the works for much longer. 

Ethan Jackson, senior co-president of the Diverse Student Union, said, “We at DSU have been preparing for this for about a year now. Really since the beginning of the school year this has sort of been on our agenda.”  

While this is DSU’s second year as a club at St. Pius, it is the first year it played a key role in the Black History Month Assembly. Under the leadership of its four senior co-presidents including Jackson, Ava Nieman, Gabrielle Harris, and Siobhan Mullins, the members of DSU were able to start gathering and brainstorming thematic ideas back in November. 

“At first we wanted to do what it’s been for the past few years, which was just a black history month assembly,” said junior Omeno Abutu. “We wanted to kind of broaden and not just talk about history but also talk about student experiences and what it’s like to be black at a predominantly white school, so then we changed it to the black experience.” 

The assembly featured with a collection of videos, speeches, and songs highlighting the black experience in everything from athletics to music. Tying well-known topics like rap music and the Black Lives Matter movement to the everyday life of a black student at St. Pius, the committee delivered a powerful message to the students and faculty. 

“I hope they [came] into it with an open heart and an open mind,” Harris said. 

I want them to know that they have a voice for a reason and know that even though they’re teenagers, they can make a change by embodying equality and kindness in their friend groups or in the classroom

One of the more popular performances from the assembly was the song “Feeling Good” performed by Abutu and accompanied by a dance from Harris. 

“My teacher choreographed the dance for me at my dance company, so when we were figuring out what to do in the assembly, I suggested that dance. I think it shows there’s different sides of the black experience. There’s pain but there’s also joy,” Harris said. 

The two complemented each other perfectly and earned a standing ovation from the crowd. Abutu also used her singing talents to lead the Chorus Club in performing the song “Changes.” 

“I think the song ‘Changes’ really exemplifies what I want [the audience] to take out of [the assembly]. I want them to know that they have a voice for a reason and know that even though they’re teenagers, they can make a change by embodying equality and kindness in their friend groups or in the classroom,” said Abutu. 

Accompanied by light percussion elements, the song had a powerful impact on the audience and was a strong opening piece. Members of the committee felt passionate about the message the individual performances and the assembly as a whole portrayed. 

Abutu said, “I’ve been lucky that the experiences that I’ve had at Pius have been more so uplifting rather than derogatory, but I’ve definitely heard of students who have had very negative experiences. Those experiences are the reason why I wanted to be a part of the BHM assembly in the first place to raise awareness and talk about the black experience, black talent.”

Experiences of racism and discrimination occur frequently in our community although we might not always see it. The point of this assembly was to bring these experiences to life in a manner that calls for unity, understanding, and change rather than division. 

Jackson said he wants the student body to gain, “Just an appreciation and a greater understanding of black history and culture. Recognize it as not so much of an entertaining thing that sort of exists out in the world but a reality for a lot of people that are part of our school community that are your friends.”

The assembly portrayed black history in an incredibly talented and educational way that was sure to leave a lasting impact on the St. Pius community just as all other assemblies have done in the past.