Highlighting Diversity and Inclusivity in Education Through Black History Month

GEMS American Academy Qatar Furthers Their Diversity and Inclusivity Focus in Education Through Black History Month by Justin Hamza Tyler


February 2023


At GEMS American Academy Qatar (GAAQ), diversity and inclusivity are fundamental values that are embraced by students, staff, and parents alike. February is an important month as it marks the celebration of Black History Month, which is an annual observance that recognizes the significant contributions of African-Americans to the United States.


To honor and acknowledge the impact of Black history on American culture, the GAAQ community came together for a week-long celebration from February 26th to March 2nd. The school community, including student groups, staff, and parents, collaborated to organize a range of activities that were aimed at educating and commemorating Black history and culture.


Throughout the month, the school's social media accounts posted daily stories about notable African-American icons. These stories served as an excellent educational resource, providing insights into the significant contributions of African-Americans to different fields, including science, sports, music, and art. Additionally, teachers hosted fun trivia games that tested the student's knowledge of Black history, while student musicians played select pieces of music from AA artists in different genres, including rock and roll, R&B, soul, and hip-hop.


One of the highlights of the week-long celebration was an engaging and thought-provoking poetry and monologue event. The event featured several talented student performers who recited their original poems and monologues that addressed the themes of Black history, identity, and culture. Condoleeza Edgar, a student that performed during the event, shared that “it was a good time. I felt strongly about putting myself out there to present Black History in a vocally-artistic way which connected with all people.” In all, the performances were inspiring, and they showcased the immense talent and creativity of the GAAQ student body.


Moreover, an informative, stimulating livestream conversation was held between a GAAQ parent and Aljazeera journalist, Ophelia Johnson and Justin Tyler, the school’s Parent Relations Executive. In this virtual discussion titled, “Black History is American History,” they highlighted the shared history - albeit shrouded in a difficult past, inevitable struggle and numerous painstaking moments in the march towards justice, liberty and equality for all - between Black and White people in America. Johnson shared that “she enjoyed the experience and students asked very stimulating questions and offered substantive opinions on the topic. Overall, that was the goal - to evoke more learning and share different perspectives that may not be readily found in a textbook.”


Also, on March 2nd, the school hosted a Spirit Day, where students wore red, black, and green to represent the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation, the strength of Black people, and the natural fertility of Africa, respectively. The event was a powerful symbol of the school's commitment to acknowledging and honoring Black history.


Sara Clarke Kaplan, Executive Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C., said: “there is no American history without African-American history. The GAAQ community has demonstrated its commitment to this idea by coming together to celebrate and acknowledge Black history as an integral part of American history. By doing so, the school has taken an important step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all students, staff, and parents.”


Overall, the week-long celebration was a resounding success. It was a testament to the GAAQ community's commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and respect for all cultures. Upper School Principal, Eamonn Gregory, mentioned that “as a school, we are proud to incorporate such an impactful cultural event as another opportunity for learning. We have such a range of international students and to celebrate Black History Month is to also acknowledge the foundation, ascension and history of the United States.” The event served as an educational and informative platform that allowed the school community to learn more about the significant contributions of African-Americans to American history and culture.