Marist School Celebrates Black History Month

The observance of Black History Month at Marist School provides an opportunity for the entire community to explore African American culture, history, and literature, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the African American experience while also aligning with the school's mission to form students in the image of Christ through inclusivity and acceptance. This acknowledgement holds particular significance for our students, as it allows them to actively engage with and celebrate the diversity of perspectives within our school community.
February was marked by a series of engaging and educational activities, beginning with a co-curricular field trip to Montgomery, Alabama, which served as both a historical pilgrimage and an immersive educational experience for students. The campus itself became a canvas for celebrating Black history, with a special display case in the Bishop Gunn Administration Center and decorations throughout St. Peter Chanel Hall, Ivy Street Center, and more, each piece narrating the profound contributions of Black Americans. A reading challenge further invited the school community to delve into African American literature, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the African American experience.
The Black History Month activities began with a field trip to Montgomery, Alabama for the Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition and Honors American Experiment classes. During the trip, students had the opportunity to visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum. Leading the excursion were teachers Mr. Mike Burns, Dr. Nic Hoffmann ’03, and Dr. Shannon Hipp ’94, along with counselors Ms. Stephanie Word and Ms. Isabella Tsui, who accompanied a total of 57 students to the museums.
This field trip was directly linked to their ongoing studies, particularly for AP English Literature and Composition students, who were focused on exploring the trauma and enduring legacy of slavery in America, specifically within the context of Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved".

"We are using the historical readings to provide a larger context for understanding the novel and its resonances not only with the brutal history but also with efforts made to remember those lost and honor the people and sites that do the hard work of commemorating and celebrating Black history," said Dr. Hipp.

Prior to embarking on the visit, students were tasked with reading and watching various articles and videos that documented the history of lynching. Many of the chilling photographs from these sources were prominently featured in the Legacy Museum, leaving a lasting impression of the terror inflicted during those times. Additionally, AP English Literature and Composition students read an Atlanta Journal-Constitution profile of the Equal Justice Initiative titled “Pushing America to Face Its Racist Past,” which provided essential context.
When visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, each student was provided with a directed observation form intended to prompt written reflection during their time at the memorial. The group proceeded next to the Legacy Museum. While their prior readings and discussions on lynching had prepared them for the Memorial, the Museum offered a broader perspective, illustrating the direct correlation between American slavery and racism. Topics covered included Jim Crow laws, white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, segregation, the Civil Rights movement, and institutionalized racism. Like their experience at the Memorial, students were encouraged to pause, reflect, and document their learnings.
Erin Davis ’25, found herself deeply moved during her exploration of a section titled “Segregated Love”, saying, “While I was familiar with the policy of segregation of marriages, the wording of this section got to me because love is internal and yet people still found a way to put parameters around it. Love is about characters aligning, not skin colors. I feel that there is no need to put jurisdiction over matters of the heart.”
“I found myself a little overwhelmed at times in the museum,” reflected Danny Seymour ’25. “Every way you looked there was a poster, collection of signs, a video, or a sculpture that intentionally evoked sadness or fear in me. Yet, while it was a lot to process, it was never confusing or too much. I found it incredibly symbolic of how prevalent racism is in our country. Every way you look—in our past, present, and future—it is there, rearing its ugly head.”
Back on campus, Marist faculty, staff, and students were invited to participate in a reading challenge throughout the month of February, facilitated through the Marist Library. The initiative aimed to encourage participants to explore more about the African American experience through a carefully curated list of new and noteworthy books available on Sora, a student reading app. Upon completing the books-read and minutes-read challenges on the reading platform Beanstack, participants had their names entered into drawings for various prizes. The rankings were separated for employees and students, encouraging everyone to join in and accumulate reading minutes.
The community was encouraged to celebrate African American literature by reading at least one of the titles provided. While most books were readily available for checkout from the school library, all titles were conveniently accessible through Sora, providing readers with the option to access eBooks or listen to audiobooks whenever they pleased. Among the highlighted titles were "You Should See Me in a Crown" by Leah Johnson, "Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi, and "The Door of No Return" by Kwame Alexander.
Additionally, members of Marist School’s Black Student Alliance (BSA) took the initiative to adorn the display case in the Bishop Gunn Administration Center with a themed collection entitled “Who Makes Up Black America.” This exhibit aimed to spotlight the diverse cultures, achievements, and histories that collectively contribute to the rich tapestry of the African American experience. Notably, students Alia Abdo '25, Erin Davis '25, Eden Gebeyehu '24, Zane Johnson '25, Gabby Ovadje '24, Jayden Rachal '26, and Brooke Thomas '25 played instrumental roles in the creation and curation of this display.
“I truly enjoyed designing this display case that shows the diaspora of African Americans,” Abdo said. “It is easy for many people to assume or categorize African Americans or Blacks in one group, but there is vast variety within the race.”
Thomas agreed, saying, “I think it's so easy to generalize a group of people into one area or country, so using different flags in our display case definitely aided in showing others just how diverse the black diaspora is.”
 “We included both the African countries and the Latin American ones,” said Ovadje. “To me, this shows our rich cultural diversity that can mix and still all be Black. This is one of my favorite aspects of our culture.”
Rachal added, “Though we might all originate from different countries, there is still a deep sense of community with one another.”
Their dedication to representing a wide range of perspectives and stories was evident in their thoughtful arrangement. As members of the BSA, these students work year-round—not only during Black History Month—to provide a safe space for students of Black heritage to gather and be themselves comfortably so that they can experience personal growth and connection to their racial identity. Their mission to create a sense of community and belonging for Marist students of Black heritage is enhanced by efforts that bring discussion and awareness of Black culture to the forefront of campus life. Through their ongoing dedication and commitment, these students exemplify the values of inclusivity, empathy, and empowerment within our school community, leaving a lasting impact that extends far beyond Black History Month.
As February comes to a close, the array of activities and the depth of engagement from the Marist community in acknowledgement of Black History Month have not only enriched our understanding of African American history but also have resonated with the school's mission. The dedication to building a community of inclusion and belonging is a testament to Marist’s commitment to forming students in the image of Christ. Embodying these values is pivotal in uniting as a community characterized by an ardent love of neighbor. The reflections shared by students, the collaborative efforts in organizing the field trip to Montgomery, and the collective participation in the reading challenge and campus decorations all mirror our ongoing journey toward achieving a more united and understanding community. Through these actions, Marist School honors the rich legacy of Black Americans during Black History Month and makes progress in living out our mission.

Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers