• Plainfield Public Schools (Union County) Celebrating National Black History Month

    The Plainfield Public School District is located in Plainfield, NJ. Plainfield is a culturally vibrant town located 30 miles southwest of New York, NY, historically known as “The Queen City”.  Families are attracted to the City’s suburban rich historically preserved picturesque homes that have garnered national attention. The District serves an ethnically diverse and growing population of approximately 8,238 students. The District has one K-8 center, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one comprehensive high school, one performing arts high school, 14 early childhood centers, and one new elementary school, “The Charles and Anna Booker School” currently under construction by NJSDA scheduled to be completed in 2023. We believe in our motto: Champions for Students.

    This year’s National Black History in-person celebration was particularly special given the despair of the COVID-19 Pandemic which caused our District to transition to remote learning. Plainfield Public Schools began preparation for its annual celebration last September 2021 under the direction of Rosalyn Moore, who has chaired the event for several years. The festivities for National Black History Month began with a reception entitled “Celebrating Black History Month: Our History Speaks for Us.” The Cedarbrook K-8 Center Choir, under the direction of Leslie Young,  kicked off the ceremony with the signing of the National Black Anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” written by James Weldon Johnson in 1899. The song was originally written as a poem and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In 1919, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) adopted it as the Negro National Anthem for its powerful words internalizing the struggle of African Americans. The celebration continued with a welcome from the Superintendent who shared how Dr. Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week 96 years ago on February 7, 1926.

    Band Director Gregory Williams of The Plainfield Academy for the Arts and Advanced Studies (PAAAS) High School, wowed the crowd with Jazz music from the Ensemble Project, a six-member jazz student band. The Ensemble Project played Brown's Town by Kenny Dorham and Social Call by Gigi Gryce. Festivities continued throughout the District with a Reading Club, under the direction of Dr. Tristian Cox, Social Studies Supervisor, focusing on African American History. The club read the book, Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. The Reading Club, which included teachers, students, parents, and community members, led to many new discoveries regarding African American History. Many of the members had never heard of the slave ship, The White Lion.

    During the celebration, a tasting of African American cuisine (plantains, sweet potatoes and greens) was sampled by all as well as Black History Trivia Contests, head-wrapping ritual, and poetry recitals.

    The District’s final program featured student performances at Plainfield High School Auditorium. The Plainfield High School Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Mr. M.A. Taylor, Director, Choreographer and Dance Instructor, performed African Dance, ballet, jazz, and modern dance, to music selections from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Donny Hathaway. Additionally, all of our thirteen schools held National Black History celebrations throughout the entire month of February.

    Each year, the Plainfield Public School District inclusive of Board members and elected officials pause to celebrate the culture and endless contributions African Americans have made to America. Celebrating National Black History reminds us that Black History is American History. Celebrating Black History reminds us that 400 years ago in 1619, 20 Africans were taken, enslaved, and brought to America on a ship called the White Lion one year prior to the Mayflower. While in America, the Africans were forced into slavery growing and harvesting tobacco, and picking cotton without anything in return for their labor. Celebrating Black History reminds us that the institution of slavery was more horrible than anyone could ever imagine; the Africans were beaten, traded and sold away from their families, and were viewed as inhumane. Over three million Africans were enslaved prior to President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which declared “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious States were declared free.

    Celebrating National Black History Month reminds us of the resiliency of African American have endured throughout History. The untold stories of persons of African American descent in the United States continues to unfold as scholars and scientists continue to uncover their truth.


    Hannah-Jones, N., (2021). The 1619 project. Random House LLC, NY.

    Kendi, I. X., and Blain, K. N., (2021). Four hundred souls. Random House LLC., NY.