Dr. Fredericka Harris Shares the Importance of Black History Month

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By — Mia Cramaro

Black History Month by definition is a month to celebrate Black History in America and around the world. Since 1976, US presidents have recognized February as Black History month.      As a community, African American history affects all of us. From every day seeing what the African American experience currently is, to looking back at the horrors they dealt with from the hands of slave owners to the civil rights movement. Their music moves us, and their stories stay with us. They are an integral part of the American experience. 

Dr. Fredericka Harris, one of our assistant principals here at Tuscarora, was excited to share her input on the importance of recognizing black history not just in February, but always. “Black History Month is a time that reminds me of the great African Americans before me that have paved the way for me to have opportunities. This month is a great time to learn and share the successes of historical African Americans with others,” she stated.

Many African Americans have paved great ways in this country and Dr. Harris is one of those people. “I take great pride in being the first person in my family to earn a masters degree and being the only person in my family to earn a doctorate degree. I am able to share with my children my accomplishments such as being the first black woman to become a director at an organization that was established 60 years ago and also by being the first black woman to be an Assistant Principal at Tuscarora High School.”

Other than just paving the way for women, Dr. Harris notes that LCPS is doing quite a lot as well, to help the experience of people of every race and ethnicity. “I think that school systems like LCPS are showing us that progress is being made. We are moving toward a better society that promotes equity in all we do as a nation. There is still so much work to be done but some progress is being made.”  

Be who you are, work hard at everything you do, and speak out when you see inequalities happening in your everyday life.

According to the NAACP, African Americans currently constitute 34% of the total 6.8 million correctional population. There are a lot of disparities when it comes to African Americans in the Justice System and being incarcerated. The amount of children that get incarcerated make-up 32% of all children incarcerated. These statistics affect everyone, not just those in the African American community. 

It should come as no surprise that these continuing challenges transfer into education. Still today, the amount of African American children that graduate high school or college is significantly lower than those of other ethnicities. This obviously later affects their future career prospects. “There are challenges still in many ways in 2020 for Black Americans. Inequalities in the workforce and in public safety are just a couple. At any given point Black Americans may be challenged with being judged by the color of their skin,” explained Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris continued that, “Some experiences are the same, however, as an African American woman there are times where I have to work twice as hard to prove myself in society.” This is a clear example of how the disparities affect African Americans in this country. However all hope should not be lost.  Through all this pain, the celebration of black history makes our country much sweeter and our culture much richer. “I have been inspired by those before me such as my mother, grandmother and other historical black women. Now, I am inspired by the hard work and perseverance of all women that work hard and those that are not afraid to be leaders and mentors.”

Having strong role models for the black community at Tuscarora like Dr. Harris shows students that any perceived disparities can be overcome and that it is worth it to fight for what you believe in. “Be who you are, work hard at everything you do, and speak out when you see inequalities happening in your everyday life,” Said Dr. Harris.