A Message From Superintendent Kathleen Skeals

The story of Black History Month begins with Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson selected February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectively. In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the shift from a week to a month was realized.

President Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then every American president has issued proclamations endorsing the annual theme. This year’s theme is African Americans and the Arts which celebrates the impact African Americans have had in “visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.”  You can learn more about this year’s theme here: Celebrate Black History Month 2024

As Dr. Woodson reminds us, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Black History Month provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements, contributions, and history of Black individuals and communities. It ensures that the stories of Black people are included in the broader narratives of history and culture, promoting a more inclusive and accurate representation of our past and our present. As we celebrate Black History Month throughout North Colonie, we not only highlight the achievements and contributions of Black Americans to our history and culture despite historical challenges such as slavery, segregation, and racism, but we also commit to working toward justice and creating a more equitable society for all. 

Adopted over fifty years ago, the Shaker High School motto is “let us illuminate the Earth.” Such a motto suggests that the first Shaker High School class had ambitious hopes to bring knowledge, understanding, and enlightenment to the world. They believed that we achieve such goals and spread positive change through education and the sharing of ideas.  As we begin this Black History month, let us celebrate our diversity and collectively work toward a future where all students are equipped to be active contributors to society who think critically and use their knowledge to make the world a better place.

Kathleen Skeals
Superintendent of Schools