What deep meaning does Black History Month hold for those who celebrate it? Luckily, I was able to contact Ethnic Studies and Geography teacher Mr. Thompson for his thoughts on the month. In addition to being a Washington teacher, Mr. Thompson has acted in several films such as Straight Outta Oakland and My Cousin’s Ghetto Wedding, and he has also been a writer. He enjoys movies, eating, cooking, and fashion, and he feels inspired by art and by his family.
When asked why he believes Black History Month is significant, Mr. Thompson said “It is a time to reflect on the contributions of a marginalized group who built America.” He went on to emphasize that Black heritage should not just be celebrated in one month but should be remembered all throughout the year. Thompson’s belief is that to be African American is to be “strong, resilient, innovative, and beautiful.” He believes “to be African American is to fight against oppression and systematic racism.” He shares his history and culture everyday while teaching Ethnic Studies and feels he has contributed to the black community via the work he has done with kids. Thompson says that he feels “inspired by seeing kids striving to achieve more and others working to make change within the world.” He advises us to “Educate yourselves about the true history of America. There would be no America without the stealing of the land of the Native Americans, and the African Americans that built it.” Some historical figures he looks up to are Malcom X, MLK, Barack Obama, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton, and Tupac. He believes that it is important to remember the leaders who gave up their lives for their work.
“Educate yourselves about the true history of America. There would be no America without the stealing of the land of the Native Americans, and the African Americans that built it.”Alphonso Thompson
An important aspect of Black History month is fighting against discrimination. When asked if he believed there was discrimination within Washington High School, Thompson stated there was, though he hates to admit it. “It’s subtle, people don’t realize they do it,” he said. “Some people don’t mean it but a lot of students tell me stories about situations and things said to them.”