Fort Collins High School history wiz Alicia Jones sees the past as more than the actions of nameless, faceless people.
She likes to delve deeper, and she thinks history classes should, too.
“U.S. history is always promoting the idea of celebrating diversity in history and celebrating the different types of people we learn about,” she said. “With African Americans, (it’s important to) treat them so kids learn about them as humans first, rather than just slaves.”
In her own studies of U.S. history, Alicia said she was she was inspired when reading the works of Martin Luther King Jr. and activist, historian and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois.
“It showed me certain things you can do as a person of color and not be held back,” she said.
Understanding the stories that make U.S. history and how the events of the past can affect the present is key for students, history teacher Christine Matthie said. She said it’s important for students to feel inspired to share what they’ve learned with their peers.
Some students at Collins have taken this a step further, and have spent lunch breaks during February, Black History Month, asking their peers to sign a banner and pledge not to use hate speech.
Senior Abbesolom Asseged was one of the students organizing the effort. At one recent lunch break, he sat behind the banner, smiling and asking passersby to sign it.
“Do you know the meaning of the word?” the banner asks in big, bold letters.
Abbesolom said students have been receptive to the message. The banner has quickly filled with signatures of students vowing to honor its message long after Black History Month is over.