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Local leaders featured in District 51’s African American culture education project

District 51's African American Culture Student Education Project will last throughout all of...
District 51's African American Culture Student Education Project will last throughout all of February(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 5:38 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:31 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - As part of School District 51′s black history education, the district has organized the African American Culture D51 Student Education Project. The initiative aims to highlight local positive contributions from people of color.

District 51 has organized several projects this school year to help students learn about positive contributions from people of all different backgrounds. The Hispanic Heritage Education Project began in September, along with a Native American project in November. The new African-American culture education project will continue throughout the month of February, which is Black History Month.

Community members who have already participated include Colorado Mesa University head football coach Tremaine Jackson, and David Combs, the president of Black Citizens and Friends of Mesa County. Teachers across the district will incorporate these messages from local leaders while also educating students about black history.

“Coach Jackson did more of an inspirational message, using his position and his platform to help promote equity within the community,” explains Tracy Gallegos, Director of the West Central Region Colorado Migrant Education Program. “We’re trying to encourage teachers to do some planning around the videos. So maybe they plan a lesson for Black History, and then pull up one of the videos to highlight a local example.

The District 51 website has a compilation of all videos which teachers will use as part of their Black History Month education. This offers all students, including those who are part of the D51 online program, to learn more about leaders in the African-American community.

Along with highlighting local figures, the school district is using other videos for the project, including a history of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, a video profiling civil rights hero John Lewis, and a link exploring black women’s contributions throughout history. There is also a video of 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, who in January became the youngest poet to ever perform at a presidential inauguration.

“We need to get better as a system to really empower our kids and help them really understand their potential,” Gallegos says. “Kids do better when they have leaders and teachers that look like them, and understand their culture.”

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