CHICAGO (CBS) -- Talking and learning about Black History beyond the month of February.
That is what one suburban school district has made a priority new this year. As CBS 2's Steven Graves explains, it was a student-led effort
that could serve as a model for others.
In all her years of learning, Danaria Keys noticed something missing. Her history, Black history, she said was pretty much non-existent.
"So to have a whole course, it's exciting. It's something new. It's something I never had," Keys said.
The Proviso Math and Science Academy Senior helped implement a new district-wide curriculum this year. She and a group of students at the school in Forest Park convinced the administration over the past years. Inspired recently by George Floyd's murder and civil unrest.
"It was so much Black trauma and sometimes you don't really know where it stems from," Keys said.
The Black History deep dive studies are not just an elective, but now a requirement for graduation. District 209 is about 30% Black and 60% Latino student body has been overall excited about the change. Same for the predominantly white (68%) teaching staff.
Teacher George Bunn leads a class that focuses more on questions and discussions, providing his life lessons as a Black teacher.
"Projects that have to do with Black Lives Matter and mass incarceration and things of that nature," Bunn said.
Another course, Black History 365, geared toward sophomores, goes beyond the timeline of the civil rights movement and covers numerous prominent Black leaders in a specially geared book.
And that book is filled with more than 1,200 pages of Black history with pictures, lessons and even QR codes. The point: to really hone in on the curiosity of that younger generation. No matter what race."
Senior Aaron Castro wishes the courses were implemented sooner.
"It's just the fact that we're learning more about stuff that's previously hidden away from us. It's a great thing that's really helped broaden my horizons," Castro said.
Keys will graduate this year with plans to study law. Leaving this legacy behind and a blueprint for others to follow.
"I mean, it's just a start. We have a long way to go," Keys asked.
The Proviso Township District tells CBS 2 it is focusing on hiring more Black educators to teach courses. They only make up about 18% of the teaching staff.
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