The list of activities that take place in PUSD schools during Black History Month is impressive. 29 campuses have events ranging from making peanut butter to classrooms and hallways with displays of African-American inventors to a staff prepared Soul Food luncheon with profits going toward a scholarship for African-American students.
There are assemblies that take place throughout the month and then there is the African American History Bee.
The bee is sponsored by the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Gamma Lambda Chapter. Student teams are questioned from wide ranging categories including: cultural pride, pioneers, civil rights, and Pasadena history. There are elementary and middle school levels. This year the middle school went on for 14 rounds and the elementary bee went on for 12 rounds.
The Madison Elementary team of Nathan Abel and Jose Manuel Marquez won first place. Russell Thraikill and Deja King from Altadena Elementary came in second, and the Field Elementary team of Sandiso Dube-Mathanda and Reina Freeman placed third.
Reina's dad and her brother sat in front of me, and it was a joy to see Mr. Freeman's pride becoming more and more apparent as the field became smaller. During the awarding of medals Reina thanked her father and her little brother - "I couldn't have done it without them".
Mr. Freeman had been in the bee as a PUSD student and took great pride in the fact that Reina was the second generation in his family to do really well. As we chatted I learned that Reina is the grand daughter of Vivian Perez. Vivian was one of the first members of the Pasadena Mexican American History Association that I had the pleasure of meeting as I began research on this community. She also served as President of Chicanas Organized for Progress and Advancement in Education.
The blending of our lives and sharing our history is part of what makes Pasadena so very special.