Black History Month 2021 at DDSB

Posted On Tuesday March 16, 2021
Bee Quammie
Bee Quammie presenting to over 600 parents and guardians during the Parent Engagement Series, How to Talk to Your Children About Anti-Black Racism.

Students, staff and families celebrate Black Excellence and learn about anti-Black racism

Black History Month was celebrated differently at the Durham District School Board (DDSB) this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while leveraging digital tools to increase community engagement and reach. The pandemic created the opportunity to host one of the largest online events in recent memory through the Parent Engagement Series “How to Talk to Your Children about Anti-Black Racism,” and a grassroots initiative #BlackExcellenceDDSB that created an outlet for schools and staff to showcase the contributions and achievements of famous and local Black people in society.

On February 24, over 600 parents, guardians and DDSB staff attended the Parent Engagement Series, How to Talk to Children about Anti-Black Racism, with guest speaker Bee Quammie. Quammie is a writer, speaker, and social media influencer and a DDSB parent. In her discussion she defined systemic racism, colourism, stereotypes, and shared her lived-experiences as a Black women and mother.

“We often underestimate children and what they understand,” Quammie states. “When having discussions with children, a lot of it rests with us as adults.”

She said that it’s important to talk to children about what they are seeing in the media regarding anti-Black racism. She encouraged attendees to use trust-worthy sources for help to explain these topics and that it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know’. This provides an opportunity to research the topic together as a family and work beyond it.

After Quammie’s session, members of DDSB’s psychological services and social work teams presented the recently launch Anti-Black Racism Well-Being Toolkit. They provided everyone with highlights of resources in the toolkit and they let families know how they could connect with them for support. Anyone who missed the discussion can view it by visiting:

Black Excellence

Executive Equity Coordinator Chrystal Bryan worked with DDSB secondary administrator teams to create the online #BlackExcellenceDDSB challenge. Schools showcased their Black History Month events and class activities that paid tribute to contributions of Black people in our society.

“A project like this ultimately is about the valuing of Black people and culture. For some they learned about different Black figures, while others might have had the opportunity to have their voice heard in a different way,” Bryan says. “The hope is that many of the posts were conversation starters and showed many Black students how talented they are as well as who they could aspire to be in future years - thus breaking down the barrier statement, if you can’t see it, you don’t know you can be it.”

The challenge was a great success, with secondary and elementary schools participating. Bryan added that, “Those communities that have a larger Black population, the challenge really allowed for students to shine and celebrate being Black. When you have students knocking down the administrator’s door to put out their post, you know they are proud and want the opportunity to have their voices heard.”    

To see a snapshot of some of the amazing posts visit: