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Burnaby School District Hosts Inaugural Black Excellence Day

Over 6,000 people from school communities across the province to attend virtual anti-racism rally

“When black people are successful, amazing things happen. “

It’s the idea at the heart of black excellence, according to Amanuel Kassa, a grade 12 high school student from Burnaby South.

Officially proclaimed by the province this week, Black Excellence Day on January 14 is “a day to celebrate black history and learn about black histories, black art and black people, and a day to show solidarity with black Canadians ”, according to the Ninandotoo Company, the anti-racist charity behind the event.

On Friday, the Burnaby School District will host a virtual event for more than 6,000 people from school communities across the province.

The event will feature a host of speakers ranging from educators to artists to athletes.

Attendees will also hear from some Burnaby students, including Kassa, share what black excellence means to them.

“Black Excellence is a state of mind and a series of actions that celebrate and support the black community and recognize the challenges black people face in reaching their full potential,” Kassa said in a school district. Press release. “It’s what motivates us and keeps us going – something we need more in this world because when black people are successful amazing things happen.”

Beth Applewhite, Burnaby School District Director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, will also be among the presenters.

The district hosted a large virtual event for Black History Month last year, attended by thousands of students from Metro Vancouver.

“Ninandotoo Company Founder Kamika Williams was a guest speaker at this event,” Applewhite said in an emailed statement to NOW. “She reached out to us this year to let us know about her plans for Black Excellence Day and asked if we would be open to welcoming and connecting for BC school districts.”

Black Excellence Day was born out of the Black Shirt Day movement, and participants can wear black shirts to show solidarity, but Ninandotoo created Black Excellence Day after consulting with community groups such as the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Center and BC Human Rights Commission.

They all expressed concern that the words “black shirt” and the people parading evoke traumatic experiences of Holocaust survivors.

“Despite the move away from ‘Black Shirt Day’, the meaning of Black Excellence Day remains the same: to recognize the continued struggle for the civil rights of black and racialized Canadians and to fight for a mandatory program on black history, ”says the Ninandotoo website.

For more information visit www.burnabyschools.ca.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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