McCain-Ravenel Monday Honors Black History Month

The February 14 McCain-Ravenel Monday engaged all members of our community in a celebration of Black history, culture, and accomplishment. The first part of the day, themed “Black Foundations of Culture, served with a side of Service,” provided students with the opportunity to select from a robust array of options. Among the many highlights, students met with owners of several local Black-owned businesses including PIES Yoga and Fitness, Goody’s Frozen Custard, Make No Excuses Fit Camp, and Harambe Bookstore. Some spent the morning assembling and distributing food to those in need through work with Martha’s Table and Carpenter’s Shelter. Others took part in guided tours of Lincoln’s Cottage, James Van Der Zee’s Photographs of Harlem at the National Gallery of Art, Black history along Alexandria’s waterfront, and D.C.’s historic U Street corridor, to name a few. On campus options included music workshops with Samuel Prather & Groove Orchestra, a band that mixes jazz harmony with dance rhythms from all over the world, and Crank LuKongo & Swamp Guinee, an African Worldbeat musical collective comprising a variety of well-established musicians, as well as a sustainability workshop with the owner of Threadleaf & Company.

The afternoon was themed “Intellectual Courage: How Do We Participate In Black History?” Eleventh and twelfth graders attended a presentation by Ty Seidule, author of “Robert E. Lee and Me.”  During his conversation with students, the retired U.S. Army brigadier general and professor emeritus of history at West Point shared his personal and professional journey, one in which his willingness to question his own understanding of U.S. military history caused an evolution of his view of the Confederacy and its leaders, and, incidentally, deepened his understanding of Black history.  Ninth and tenth graders took a walking tour of campus, and a quick ride to nearby Fort Ward, to delve into “Black history in and around EHS” as they interacted with faculty at various stops. Among topics discussed were integration at EHS in 1968, the story of Oscar Payne, an enslaved man who was rented out to Episcopal, escaped, and fled north to freedom in 1858, and the relationship of The High School to its neighboring community from the late 19th to mid-20th century.

View images from the day here.