Note: this is based on an OUSD Press Release issued just hours before the event – yes, the same day; Zennie62Media missed the email at the time.
Oakland, CA – On Thursday evening, May 21, Oakland came together to celebrate African American students in an unprecedented way. It will be the 19th Annual African American Honor Roll Celebration when OUSD and the city celebrate outstanding academic work by students, as their family and friends cheer them on.
“This school year has been marred by enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is especially important to show Oakland’s African American scholars that their hard work is recognized and appreciated,” said Jerome Gourdine, OUSD Director of Targeted Strategies.
Because of the shelter in place order, the Office of Equity team has organized a virtual celebration that features an exciting lineup of student recognition, a performance from Sistah Iminah, awards to outstanding community members and powerful messages from Oakland athletes Marshawn Lynch, Damian Lillard, Josh Johnson and filmmaker Akintunde Ahmad.
There were also be inspirational messages from Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Mayor Libby Schaaf. In honor of the accomplishments and resilience of Oakland’s African American students, Mayor Schaaf also proclaimed May 21 African American Honor Roll Day in the city. This is the first proclamation of its kind in the nation. “This is a wonderful and important celebration every year,” said Superintendent Johnson-Trammell. “And while the format will be different because of the shelter in place order, it will not dampen the excitement and pride of our students, our staff and our families. I look forward to celebrating our young people and their outstanding achievements.”
The program also included a tribute to a legendary Oakland activist. The African American Education Task Force, led by Oscar Wright, recognized that Black students were not being celebrated for their academic achievement. Instead, they were cast in a continuously negative light, due to the dire effects of systemic racism and oppression against the African American community. Black students were too often highlighted when speaking of disparities, but rarely mentioned when celebrating excellence.
Nineteen years ago, Oscar Wright along with Wanda and Clarence Boyd, and the leadership of Bishop Bob Jackson and Acts Full Gospel Church, began independently funding and producing the African American Honor Roll celebration. This continued for several years. The engagement fostered by the annual celebrations aided the community in establishing the African American Male Achievement and African American Female Excellence initiatives which now produce the event. Both initiatives are housed within the District’s Office of Equity and are bringing many aspects of the African American Education Task Force’s vision to life.
The Office of Equity, African American Male Achievement, African American Female Excellence, in partnership with Oscar Wright and the African American Education Task Force, proudly invited the community to honor the excellence of our African American scholars.
WHAT: 19th Annual African American Honor Roll Celebration
WHEN: 6:00 p.m., Thursday, May 21
WHERE: To view the ceremony after its conclusion, please visit any of the following web pages:
– Office of Equity Youtube Page