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Board of Education Meeting June 10, 2021

At the June 10 Elizabeth Board of Education meeting held at Elizabeth High school – Frank J. Cicarell Academy, the Board recognized Portugal Day, the Centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and Juneteenth Independence Day.

In celebration of Portugal Day, a video was shown highlighting Portuguese culture and culinary traditions. This video featured students from Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy participating in the baking of Pasteis de Nata, or custard tarts, at Roc’s Café in Elizabeth as well as the celebration of the Portuguese heritage and the recognition of Elizabeth Public Schools team members of Portuguese descent. Members of the EPS community of Portuguese heritage joined in the celebration and Board members Diana Barbosa and Maria Carvalho passed out Portuguese pastries to the audience in attendance at the meeting.

In remembrance of the Centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a video was presented by Dr. Davida Lindsay-Harewood detailing the tragic events that took place May 31, 1921 in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, a thriving community known as Black Wall Street. The presentation also included the perspectives of teachers and students who have participating in teaching and learning experiences in our schools related to the lessons from the Tulsa Race Massacre, with students sharing the significance of learning black history in the classroom. The Board adopted a resolution recognizing the historical event, which was read by Board Member Charlene Bathelus and Assistant Superintendent Judy Finch-Johnson. In adopting the resolution, the Board resolved to that the Elizabeth Board of Education recognize the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre; acknowledge the historical significance of this event as one of the largest single instances of State-sanctioned violence against Black people in American history; honor the lives and legacies of the estimated 300 Black individuals who were killed during the Massacre and the nearly 9,000 Black individuals who were left homeless and penniless; require the history about the Tulsa Race Massacre be taught in the Elizabeth Public Schools at both the middle and high school levels in order that students may learn from the history of racism and racial violence so that they may develop a responsibility to fight for and promote racial justice, and commit to promoting a culture of inclusion, diversity and equity within the Elizabeth Public Schools.

In celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day, and the end of slavery here in the United States, Dr. Lindsay-Harewood presented a video highlighting the historical events that led to the end of slavery and the celebration of Juneteenth. Students shared their view on the significance of celebrating Juneteenth here in New Jersey and learning about it in the classroom. The video also included a discussion with Harvard RIDES coach Dr. Adrienne Bailey and Winfield Scott School No. 2 Principal Samuel Etienne highlighting the work Elizabeth Public Schools is doing with the Harvard Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools Project, or RIDES project. The friends of the New Jersey Legacy Foundation and the Unified Juneteenth Committee were called forward for a photo opportunity with the Juneteenth resolution adopted by the Board, which was read by Board President Jerry Jacobs.

Later in the meeting, Juneteenth was officially added to the district calendar as a recognized and celebrated holiday, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.