Reflecting on Black History Month: Lessons of Courage and Compassion at St. John XXIII

During February, the Ottawa Catholic School Board takes time to reflect, educate, and celebrate Black History Month. This year, a Grade 1 and 2 class from St. John XXIII spent the month learning about several civil rights activists and their fight for equality and justice. Through engaging activities and heartfelt discussions, the young learners discovered the profound impact of Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., and Viola Desmond.

Exploring Courageous Stories

Throughout the month, the entire class was engrossed in the stories of several brave individuals. Rosa Parks’s unwavering stand for her rights and Ruby Bridges’s courageous efforts to integrate schools left a deep impression on the students. Ruby Bridges’s story, in particular, struck a chord with the students as they realized she was their age when she embarked on her historic journey. This realization filled them with curiosity and empathy.

Letters of Empathy and Understanding

Driven by compassion and honesty, the students poured their hearts into letters addressed to these historical figures. Their words, filled with empathy and admiration, reflected a deep understanding of the struggles faced by those who paved the way for a more just society. One student’s letter to Martin Luther King Jr. echoed the sentiment shared by many: “You were brave, and it wasn’t fair for you and the other Black people.”

Outcomes from the Lessons in Social Justice

Through these lessons, our students profoundly understood social justice and its enduring significance in shaping our world. They learned that courage, resilience, and the unwavering desire for change can lead to transformative outcomes. As teacher Lori Arno observed, the most remarkable result was our students’ outpouring of compassion and sympathy towards these amazing individuals.

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