Recognizing the contributions from Black students at Hart and from Black Civil Rights leaders across the country

Ava Smith, Social Media Manager

Samyra Benoit, a senior at Hart, wanted to create a safe space for Black students attending Hart since her freshman year. Before she formed the Black Student Union in September 2021, Sammy recalled feeling isolated from other students due to her race. 

She wanted to help other Black students at Hart who felt similarly., and felt that there was a need for

 “[There is a need for] a culture of Black students at the school,” said Samyra. 

In the Black Student Union, members can discuss with and vent to each other about a variety of issues surrounding the Black community including colorism, featurism, diaspora and more. The club meets every other Thursday in room F32. 

Black History Month intends to celebrate and recognize the achievements of Black people and how they have contributed to the progression of society. One prominent Black activist who throughout his entire life helped bring voting rights to Black Americans and increased freedom and equality in the United States as a whole was John Lewis, an American Civil Rights activist and politician. He served as the chairman for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s, and participated in multiple peaceful protests. The most notable protest he participated in was Bloody Sunday, where protestors were attacked by state troopers, deputies and police. 

After leaving the SNCC, Lewis became the director of the Voter Education Project, and in the 1970’s he was put in charge of ACTION, the federal volunteer organization that includes the Peace Corps and Volunteers Service to America/VISTA. John Lewis is most known for his membership in the U.S House of Representatives, which he joined in 1986. On top of this, Lewis received several awards, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize in 1975, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2001, the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

John Lewis died July 2020 of Pancreatic Cancer. Lewis requested that after his death The New York Times publish a valedictory essay he wrote. In it, he admired the Black Lives Matter movement and called upon current and future activists. 

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring,” Lewis said. 

Looking back on what John Lewis contributed to the Civil Rights Movement and discussing the current issues involving the Black community reveal why Black History Month exists. Black History Month helps begin the discussion of social and political issues Black people experience and the history behind them, as well as acknowledge the hard work of Black activists such as John Lewis, Malcom X and many others.