All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
female students during equity lab day
pam asks nyle a question during equity lab day
students listen to afrobeat during equity lab day
digital music course during equity lab day
students discuss emmett till during equity lab day
evan thomas presents during equity lab day
nyle fort keynote speaker during equity lab day
nyle fort talks to teachers during equity lab day
quint clarke speaks during equity lab day
luis jimenez presents during equity lab day
Equity Lab Day Lifts Black Stories & Community Learning
Ashley Schreyer
equity lab day course offerings

Bisa Butler. Lewis Latimer. Marsha P. Johnson. Robert Smalls. They may not be household names, but that doesn’t make their tremendous impact any less significant. During Equity Lab Day and Black History Month Seminars at Blair, the community examined the stories of these influential figures and others, learning from some of the voices they learn from best—one another.

“In this community, we nurture strong relationships and genuinely care for one another, and this day is a celebration of that,” Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Evan Thomas explained. “Today is a day for acknowledging the richness and importance of Black stories and honoring community learning. It requires a great lift from all of us to put this event together, but it equally benefits all of us as well.”

The “lift” Mr. Thomas refers to began in the early morning, when faculty and staff assumed the role of students in classrooms around campus, taking part in seminars led by their fellow colleagues. A host of topics were offered for conversation, including “Ethics & AI,” “Systems & Drivers of Behavior” and “IQEE: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bigotry and Stereotypes.” The seminars offered a valuable opportunity to discuss topics and issues unique to our community with others who could empathize, fostering greater understanding and collaborative learning in the process.

“The personal development piece serves as a reminder of the work we commit ourselves to in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community,” Mr. Thomas said, “but it also models to students that we are constantly learning as humans. I am grateful to the leaders who stepped up to present and those that supported student sessions.”

Following the morning session of faculty and staff seminars, the entire School gathered in DuBois Theatre to engage with minister, activist and scholar Dr. Nyle Fort. In a thought-provoking discussion, he impressed upon students the never-ending fight toward justice and leaving the world a little bit better than we found it. Dr. Fort shared that love is the moral force of what he described as the “long freedom struggle” and only love can eliminate the difference that oppression makes between us.

From the assembly, students broke out into an array of Black History Month Seminars led by their peers and supported by the faculty who know them well. Conversations of music, dance and cultural appropriation versus appreciation fostered dialogue and co-learning throughout the hilltop. In Naomi Limann ’26 and Josie Tetteh ’26’s course about the “roots” of black and textured hair, the co-leaders shared the history of different hairstyles, their meanings and how Black experiences influence hair culture before breaking into groups to experiment with styling.

“We wanted to share the history and teach our peers about textured hair,” Josie said. “Talking about it isn’t as effective as actually doing it.”

Upstairs, brothers Richard ’24 and George Gimbel ’27, supported by U.S. naval veteran Brian Antonelli’93, shared with their peers many of the notable contributions Black Americans made to their country through military service. They shared stories of heroism as well as the enduring reality of prejudices that still exist today. Challenging their classmates, the Gimbels asked students to reflect on the stories learned today and apply them in their everyday lives. “How do you intend to develop a new perspective on racial justice in your own life based on what you’ve learned today?” Richard asked. Food for thought for the entire community as Equity Lab Day came to a close.

Bisa Butler. Lewis Latimer. Marsha P. Johnson. Robert Smalls. As Blair honors and learns from the past, we lift these stories. But there are other names as well. Naomi Limann. Josie Tetteh. Richard Gimbel. George Gimbel. “These are dark times,” Dr. Fort told the community. “But it is precisely during the night in our history that we must dream.”

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