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CHCCS holds event to amplify the voices of the CHCCS Black community, celebrate Black joy

Posters created by students at the Black Joy event at Culbreth Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools hosted an event celebrating Black joy, highlighting Black achievements and amplifying Black voices in the school community on Saturday.

The celebration was held at Culbreth Middle School from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to commemorate Black History Month. The event featured two panels, arts and crafts, a DJ and free food.       

“This year, it was important for our team to not only recognize the long history of struggle in the Black community — but during that struggle, there's also been great joy," Rodney Trice, CHCCS deputy superintendent for teaching & learning, systemic equity and engagement, said.    

CHCCS Director of Family and Community Engagement Jackie Love also praised the event, noting the importance of representation and celebration. 

“It’s a chance to just celebrate Black joy," Love said. "It’s a chance to celebrate us. It’s a chance to give parents and students of all grade levels a chance to speak their truths. To talk about what 'Black joy' really means.”  

The first panel featured students from CHCCS and the second featured CHCCS parents. Both panels discussed what "Black joy" means, how they celebrate Black culture and the Black experience in the CHCCS school system and in society as a whole.     

In the parent panel, Julius Coulter, a Black CHCCS parent, talked about the experiences of his children in classrooms and how he encourages them to connect with their Black culture.  

“Black history is every day," Coulter said during the panel.    

Carrboro High School senior Myles Jackson said he enjoyed the event, noting how it created a space to celebrate Black achievement. He also said he would like to see more community engagement with Black history and culture.  

“The more that we know, the more that we can do,"  he said. "And we just need a platform to do that."

In addition, the creative space for crafts gave students the opportunity to create artwork celebrating Black joy. Students created individual posters, which were all combined to create one large gallery wall celebrating Black history and culture. 

Trice said the creative space was a vital part of the event.

“We didn't want it just to be kind of all sit and get," he said. "We wanted students to have an interactive, fun time to do some artistic things.”    

When asked what "Black joy" meant to them, attendees expressed a broad range of answers. 

“Personally, to me, Black joy means being my authentic self," Love said. "Black joy means that my joy is not predicated on anything external. My Black joy is like a light that just shines within me because I can’t change how anybody feels about me as a Black woman, but I know that inside I have to exude my Black joy in every situation.” 

Others highlighted spending time with their family and friends, having the ability to learn about Black culture and being comfortable in their own skin. 

While this is the first time the event has been held, CHCCS staffers and administrators hope to hold community events similar to the Black Joy Celebration in the future. 

“This is our first of what we hope to be many events where we bring in the entire community to be a part of our celebration,” said Trice.  

CHCCS has held a number of Black History Month celebrations including a community dinner at Carrboro High School and Black Joy Fridays, where Black CHCCS staff wore different clothing for each Friday of February to highlight different parts of their culture and heritage. 

@DTHCityState | 

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