Throughout the month of February, PCD students and faculty recognized and celebrated Black History Month. In collaboration with the faculty and staff, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Antonio Da Veiga Rocha put together a full schedule of events, roundtables, film screenings, and exhibitions. The comprehensive schedule included events such as Motown in the Classroom and The Importance of Black History Month, a roundtable discussion on Social Justice in Health led by Julian Drix of the Rhode Island Health Department, a discussion time for Students of Color, a workshop on Black History in the Visual Arts led by PCD art teacher Michele Mennucci, and a screening of Black Hollywood: They've Gotta Have Us.
Rocha also spearheaded exhibitions celebrating Black history quotes and African American artists, nurses, and scientists. These exhibitions were displayed around PCD throughout the month of February. Rocha, a lifelong activist explained, "The attention to the month is purposely set to celebration. There is such a strong history here, including all the atrocities, including all the unfortunate events that happened, but we want to take a moment to see that incredible individuals came out of that, incredible groups, incredible movements, incredible social methods of communications such as music, poetry. All these things came out that really impacted the nation as a whole."
Rocha believes that recognizing and celebrating America's diverse history is a requirement of all educators. "You need to do that. You need to do it in such a way that it reminds, it's celebratory, it identifies, and it gives reference to all students: there's this group that we've lived with for a long time that have had this incredible history. It's good for kids of all ages, all colors, any generation to be reminded that this country has that history, and we need to celebrate and give light in those moments."
Rocha also encouraged the PCD community to celebrate Women's History Month, which took place in March. A majority of the faculty and staff at PCD are women, Rocha noted, and asked that the community take time to acknowledge their efforts on behalf of the school. He also asked faculty to reference women's contributions in their lessons throughout the month.
"Gender Equity in our school community is an ongoing goal...We should collectively set a goal to have every student in our school community have at least an 'entry-level' understanding of the importance of celebrating women's history."
[Pictured: Students discussed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion during PCD's first 'DEI TIME'. In addition to roundtable discussions with faculty, several guest facilitators worked with students. In this photo, April Brown, director of The Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading, provided a better understanding of the Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.]