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Black History Month with HRA's Multicultural Family

February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month.  To begin Black History  Month, Hampton Roads Academy Multicultural Family (MCF) sponsors reflected upon their choice to be a part of the Multicultural Family and their hopes for Black History Month at HRA.
Why did you choose to become a sponsor of the MCF?
“I choose to become a sponsor of the MCF because I wanted to help create an environment at HRA where ALL of our students feel safe, feel heard, feel respected and feel that they can be honest and open to express themselves no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” - Sarah Andersen

“My philosophy as a teacher is rooted in mutual respect for my students as individuals. I am responsible for setting an example in courtesy, genuine interest and kindness in every interaction with my students.  This extends to all members of our school community.” - Christine Contakes

“I believe that the MCF here at HRA is a representation of the world. I wanted to be a sponsor for the MCF to demonstrate what I believe. That each of us, members of the human race, are strong, valuable, and embraced-not just accepted.  All are welcome and our "differences" are what makes us stronger when we step forward to do things together.” -Michelle Ford

“I chose to become a sponsor of the MCF because I want HRA to become a more diverse, understanding and accepting place for ALL people. Students, Faculty/Staff, Parents, Alumni...the entire HRA community. I know it has the potential for inclusivity for all and I want to be part of the solution getting there so that every person feels welcomed and heard.” -Rachel Hennessy

“Because of the initiative of my dear friend, Ron Sims, who after years of noticing and hearing about the marginalized students of color at HRA, decided to approach Mrs Cochran about forming some kind of student-lead group to help this situation. Ron included me in the proposal process (we had also been discussing this for years) and we called it The Multicultural Family.  We emphasized that this IS NOT a club.  We wanted it to be a change of culture at our school that would more accurately address our mission : To be an Inclusive Community of Service and Compassion.” -Tommy Yevak

What does the MCF hope to accomplish through Black History Month and beyond?
“It's important that we don't just learn about Black history during one month out of the year. The MCF wants to incorporate Black history into every aspect of our curriculum just like what is done with White history.” - Sarah Andersen

“We wish to celebrate individuals who have contributed in countless ways to our country and the world. The theme of this year is "The Black Family."  We'll strive to incorporate this theme though the sharing of information, videos and discussions.” - Christine Contakes

“More learning! More learning about what Black History Month is about and why it's celebrated, along with other cultural holidays, special months and days of recognition. Continuing to put out great, helpful resources.” - Rachel Hennessy

“In my view, we hope to eventually accomplish the establishment of a culture where there is no need for a Black History Month because we all honor true, "hard" history as, in totality, part of the fabric of American History.  The characteristics of protest and rebellion against oppression as being quintessentially "American" are available to Black Americans too.  White Patriots who rebelled against the oppression of the “'Mother Country" had no more justification nor heroic qualities than African American Chattel slaves who rebelled against oppression.  They too are heroes in the eyes of the Human Race…” - Tommy Yevak

What other comments or thoughts would you like to share?
“The Board of Directors of HRA has stated that the movement we are initially calling "The Multicultural Family" is here to stay and is and will be supported.” - Tommy Yevak 

“The horrors and atrocities that were committed against Black men and women...these stories aren't told. Every student in America learns about the Holocaust in great detail. But how many learn about systemic racism in our own country and how it still affects Black men and women to this day? Let’s change this.” - Sarah Andersen

“The members of the MCF strive to emphasize and model behavior with respect, civil discourse, acceptance and kindness that is necessary for interactions within our community of compassion.  We are providing opportunities for our students and staff to share and consider their stories and those of others through color, culture, character, class and context.” -Christine Contakes

HRA’s MCF sponsors meet a number of times a month in order to accomplish the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the school year.  If you are interested in learning more about the MCF, please click here.