Division of Juvenile Justice, Rehabilitation

Ventura youth explore deeper meaning during Black History Month

Black History Month artwork from student at Ventura.
The winning essay, penned by Ventura youth Divina, included original artwork for Black History Month.

A Ventura Youth Correctional Facility contest held during Black History Month in February yielded thoughtful essays exploring both the history and accomplishments of black Americans.

The essays placed historical figures in a contemporary context, such as social activism groups seeking equality and inclusion.

Winning essay looked at observance’s evolution

First place essayist Divina won $100 for her essay, writing how the observance has evolved, expanding from a week to a month.

Davina’s essay looks at health and wellness for minorities, especially when cast against the pandemic.

“Every year for Black History Month there is a different theme and with this year’s being black health and wellness, I feel that it may help to encourage people of minority groups to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve personally noticed that a lot of black and Latin Americans aren’t getting vaccines and I hope this year’s theme helps those unvaccinated to embrace all opportunity to better their fight against this COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), which was founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson, is the committee that designates a new theme for Black History Month each and every year. The U.S. isn’t the only country that celebrates Black History Month. It’s come to my attention that Canada celebrates it in February while the U.K. and Ireland chooses to celebrate it in October.”

Second-place essay focused on inclusion

Second-place essayist was Kamryn, who received $75. Kamryn’s research revealed that Black History is truly a diverse study that includes everyone.

“Black History Month and what’s been accomplished beforehand, not only celebrates African Americans but also actually celebrates the resilience and progress toward equal treatment by all people who once were treated ‘inferior.’ I also believe that Black History Month also celebrates the accomplishment of their supporters and partners.

“Consider Yuri Kochiyama for instance, who was a powerful activist who advocated for civil rights and third world parties. She was a very very close friend of Malcom X, and was of Asian nationality. She founded Asian Americans for Action and was also a member of Malcom X’s Afro-American Unity Organization, getting her support from many African Americans and eventually became a powerful influence toward President Ronald Reagan’s signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

“Although she was Asian, much of her accomplishments and actions had ties into Black History, thus making her a recognized person during Black History Month. This alone shows how Black History month is important for all people and all races.”

Third-place linked successes to becoming mature

Third-place essayist Dejon took home $50. The essay focused on the words of accomplished African Americans to make the point that success is earned. Overcoming hardships, including racial discrimination, is part of maturity.

Dejon used a quote from African American classical vocalist Marian Anderson.

“If you have a purpose in which you can believe, there’s no end to the amount of things you can accomplish. It is easy to look back self-indulgently, feeling pleasantly sorry for oneself and saying I didn’t have this and I didn’t have that. But it is only the grown women regretting the hardship of a little girl who never thought they were hardships at all. She had the things that really mattered.”


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