Gray Matters (February 2019)

Black History Month

Since February 2002, Capitol Hill Day School has celebrated Black History Month with a school-wide study of an individual, group, event, or theme associated with African-American history and culture. Teachers work collaboratively to develop projects and experiences related to the chosen topic, and the study often concludes with an all-school presentation of learning. Over the years, we have engaged with poets (Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou), artists (Romare Bearden, Wynton Marsalis), athletes (Wilma Rudolph, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), activists (Marian Wright Edelman, Martin Luther King Jr.), and more (see complete list below).

This year our Black History Month study takes us to a particular moment in history - 1968. In choosing this theme, the connection to the founding of Capitol Hill Day School and our 50th anniversary was certainly an initial draw. However, as we researched events of that year, the significance of this period to African American history and culture was obvious. In addition, many of the events of the time have direct connection to Washington, DC. 

Among other events, 1968 was the year…

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated
  • Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and Otis Redding topped the Charts
  • Shirley Chisholm was elected to Congress
  • Hallelujah, Baby! won the Tony Award for best musical
  • Poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni published some of their important works
  • Individuals worked for economic and human rights through the Poor People's Campaign

In selecting the study of 1968, we believe we have chosen a theme that is developmentally accessible, allows for in-depth study, and provides engaging opportunities to celebrate black history and culture. Most importantly, we believe this is a theme that transcends Black History Month and is a catalyst for engaging students in black history and culture beyond the month of February. The through-lines of events from 1968 to today are clear and evident, and will inform essential elements of our study. 

Resources we have found useful:

DC 1968 Project
Rep. John Lewis “Reflections on a Dream Deferred” 
Top R & B songs from 1968

List of Past Celebrations:
  • 2002    Langston Hughes, poet
  • 2003    Romare Bearden, artist
  • 2004    Katherine Dunham, dancer
  • 2005    Ben Carson, brain surgeon
  • 2006    Mae Jamison, astronaut
  • 2007    Wilma Rudolph, athlete
  • 2008    The Pinkneys, author/illustrators
  • 2009    Marian Wright Edelman, child advocate
  • 2010    Matthew Henson, arctic explorer
  • 2011    Duke Ellington, composer and pianist
  • 2012    Martin Luther King Jr., reverend and civil rights leader
  • 2013    The March on Washington, 50th Anniversary
  • 2014    George Washington Carver, agricultural scientist and inventor (EC through 5th); Shirley Jackson, inventor (Upper Grades)
  • 2015    Wynton Marsalis, composer and trumpeter
  • 2016    Maya Angelou, poet
  • 2017    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, athlete, activist, actor, and author
  • 2018    Children as Changemakers
Signature of Head of School, Jason Gray

Jason Gray
Head of School