Student clubs honor Black History Month


Joey Portell

Infographic made with demographic information from DGS’s 2021-22 Illinois Report Card.

Umoja, Athletes Committed to Excellence (ACE) and DGS activities are partnering up to plan activities for February to celebrate Black History Month. Highlights include Blue Cup and root beer float sales, an interactive quote gallery, a raffle and more.

Reusable blue cups will be available for purchase starting Monday, Jan. 30 for $1 each, while supplies last. Students can use their cups during spirit week (Feb. 6-10) to purchase root beer floats at a discounted rate. Proceeds from the blue cup and t-shirt fundraisers will be donated to The People’s Resource Center in Westmont.

Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in a quote-sharing activity, with the goal of giving a spotlight to Black leaders in American history. These quotes and “on this day” iconic African American history moments will be displayed on screens in the commons throughout the month of February.

Umoja is a club at DGS focused on promoting unity and inclusion while enhancing members’ cultural awareness and knowledge of Black history. Counselor and Umoja sponsor DeAngelo Gerald emphasized the importance of the club’s mission as well as their goals for the semester.

“We are really trying to redevelop what Umoja looks like and be more involved with the school community. [We] want to really welcome the DGS community into African American culture and [make] sure everyone is very included in that,” Gerald said.

DGS’s Royalty Steppers practice, perform and compete African percussive dance. (TeKavin Russell)

Sophomore Ky’m Young was a member of Umoja during her freshman year and is excited to be a part of Umoja’s rebuild this year. Young shared why she is looking forward to DGS’s Black History Month plans.

“I’m excited to see the Black students of DGS hopefully realize that their culture is important and worth celebrating. Representation is very important for young minds, especially in an atmosphere where they may not see as many of those successful Black role models,” Young said.

In addition to participating in-school activities, students are also encouraged to attend this year’s Black History Play “School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play,” Feb. 9-11 at 7 p.m. in the Studio Theatre. English teacher and director Tiffany Rubin explained how this year’s play differs from previous black history productions.

“A lot of plays about the black experience do involve black trauma; and while [this play] is still going to have some serious issues, like colorism, it will also allow us to explore the lighter side of what it means to be a teenage girl, or just popularity, queen bees, all that,” Rubin said.

Senior Stellar Lopez-Burson is excited to perform in the show and explained her reasoning for auditioning.

“I just wanted to be included in being part of the black community that is here at DGS. Being here, I don’t have a lot of black friends because it is a predominately white school. I feel like [auditioning] was an opportunity for me to thrive in an environment that I would feel more comfortable in,” Lopez-Burson said.

The Black History Play has been a long-time tradition in the DGS community for kicking off February. Rubin reflected on DGS Drama’s role in representing black history at DGS.

“It’s nice that we are able to start off Black History Month in that way, but I don’t think we should be the sole representative of what Black History Month could be, but we’re proud to be able to showcase the talents of our black students in drama and on stage,” Rubin said.

In the past, DGS has faced criticism for not doing enough for Black History Month. Student Activities Director Jennifer Martinez spoke about how she hopes for this year’s activities to be better incorporated into the school day by utilizing announcements, lunches and resource periods.

“I think looking at how we can utilize the time we have during the day and maximize the potential to connect with people. It’s a way for everyone to participate, and to celebrate and amplify Black voices,” Martinez said.