Return to Headlines

OUSD Celebrates Black History Month 2023

OUSD Celebrates Black History Month 2023 with the Theme “Odun Ayo - A Year of Black Joy and Excellence”

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

OUSD Celebrates Black History Month 2023
 African American Female Excellence (AAFE) & African American Male Achievement (AAMA) of OUSD’s Office of Equity activate Black History Month with the theme
“Odun Ayo - A Year of Black Joy and Excellence”

Black Joy is the heartbeat and pulse of our survival, our resiliency, our perseverance, our health and wellbeing. - Anita Dashiell-Sparks 

Oakland - February is Black History Month, which honors the wealth & impact of African American history, heritage, and culture on modern civilization. Black History Month is celebrated annually in Oakland Unified School District, across the nation, and around the world.  

Black History Month’s genesis stems from “Negro History Week,” which was established by Carter G. Woodson in 1926, at a time when racism permeated all aspects of mainstream American society. During the 1920’s and for the majority of this country’s history, all major educational and historical institutions promoted the belief that Black/African American people had no history or culture. This notion is still represented by the absence of African history, culture, and contributions in major educational paradigms. 

The celebration of Black History Month helps to ensure that African Americans and all cultures learn the ancient, inspirational, impactful, and deep history of Africa and the African diaspora in America and the world. February is a time of revitalization, revival, and empowerment to remind us to continue learning, teaching, and sharing Black history, culture, and contributions all year long.

OUSD is celebrating Black History Month 2023 with the theme “Odun Ayo- A Year of Black Joy and Excellence.” Odun Ayo means a “Year of Joy” in the Yoruba language. Many African Americans whose ancestors were captured in Africa and enslaved in America, are descended from the Yoruba people, found mainly in the southwest of Nigeria, Benin, Ghana and Togo. Despite the extreme challenges and many long-standing issues our communities are facing, it is imperative to use ancestral inspiration to uplift our mental, physical, spiritual, cultural, financial, emotional, social, and academic health starting in February and carrying us through the entire year.  

Throughout Black History Month we are also highlighting the importance of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and incorporating them into our daily lives, beyond the traditional December celebration. The principles of Kwanzaa, which include unity and purpose, serve as best practices that help improve our individual and collective advancement. We celebrate and practice the Kwanzaa principles year round, as a collective invocation of African American cultural self-determination and empowerment.

This year’s Black History Month will include many African American themed events, activities, calls to action, and opportunities to amplify student, family, and staff voices from OUSD’s African American community. 

The Office of Equity’s African American Female Excellence (AAFE) and African American Male Achievement (AAMA) programs will be celebrating Black History Month and raising awareness of African American historical legacy throughout the diaspora with a diverse array of African American themed events, activities, calls to action, and opportunities to amplify student, family, and staff voices from OUSD’s African American community.

Community events include:

  • Black Family Summit - Oakland Technical High School Auditorium, February 1, 5:00-7:00 pm (for current and prospective OTHS students and their families)

  • HBCU Caravan - Black College Expo - Youth Uprising, February 3, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

  • AAFE & AAMA Hosted @ Golden State Warriors Black History Month Kickoff Game - Chase Center, February 6

  • OUSD 43rd Annual MLK Oratorical

    • District-wide Registration- February 6-10

    • Live FINALS SHOWCASE - Skyline High School Theatre, March 12, 1:00-5:30 pm

  • HBCU Student Panel - February 24, 5:30-6:30 pm

  • Queen Iminah & AAFE Performance at Golden State Warriors Black History Month Celebration - Thrive City @ Chase Center - February 25, 12:00-4:00 pm

Additionally, we want to share the collection of books honoring Black History Month that were curated by our library team on Sora, the free digital online library. The collection, titled Celebrating Black Joy, Black History, and Black Excellence includes fiction and nonfiction titles, biographies, and other books and audiobooks that celebrate and honor Black History.

We encourage all students and staff to send us your photos and a short narrative of how you are celebrating Black History Month at your school. Every opportunity to showcase what is happening at our school sites provides inspiration, and motivates more participation in future events. Be recognized for what you do!

You can also share on social media with the hashtags #ODUNAYOOUSD and #BLACKJOYBLACKEXCELLENCEOUSD. 

For support with hosting site-based celebrations and events, please see Resources for Celebrating Black History Month in OUSD

To bring African American Female Excellence or African American Male Achievement to your school community, contact: (AAFE) Program Manager, Iminah Ahmad at or (AAMA) Targeted Specialist, Kevin Jennings at

For direct support and general questions please contact Office of Equity Program Assistant Adrieanna Williams at