In honor of Black History Month, Valencia High School’s Black Student Union and wellness program played host to a panel of speakers on Thursday at the school to inspire the school’s community to embrace their racial identities and “show up.”
Leaders who spoke at the event included: Cherise Moore, a member of the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board; Lockheed engineer Felicia Walker-Breland; Gloria Locke, a Santa Clarita Valley artist and historian who preserves Black history; UCLA Professor Larthia Dunham; and Jeffrey Thompson, a commissioner on the Los Angeles County Workforce Development board.
“I’m here to tell you life is hard,” said Dunham. “You’re sitting here today not because of you. You’re sitting here today not because you think that everything you’ve done is right. You are sitting on the shoulders of everybody that got you here.”
Dozens of students from all racial identities gathered into Valencia’s multipurpose room on Thursday afternoon to hear from the panel of speakers.
Each speaker spoke about their history and their paths to get to where they are today.
Each one is unique, but they all faced adversity in different forms.
Moore was told by a professor at UCLA, “’Why don’t you major in something like the rest of your kind?’”
Walker-Breland’s lab partners told her to “not worry” about their lab projects.
Locke was called the “N-word” in kindergarten.
Dunham had to constantly remind himself, “No man is superior.”
Thompson went from living in all-Black neighborhood to being the darkest family in the community.
“I found what was good in me and I found that excellence,” said Locke.
All speakers agreed that one of the strongest things the students can do is standing together and finding those who have similar beliefs. Their message: If someone doesn’t believe in you or your dream, then they shouldn’t be a part of your life.
“I will tell anyone that February is Black History Month but it is not the only time when we should be learning about and appreciating Black history because you are Black history and it happens every day of every life that you live, that we live,” said Moore.