Florida’s Black History Month Contest

A few years ago, I wrote a blog about the importance of celebrating Black History Month. It is with the same unyielding support of diversity education that I encourage participation in First Lady DeSantis’ Black History Month essay and art competition.

The theme of this year’s contest is “Celebrating Public Service” – an opportunity to honor an African American whose service has made Florida a better place for all to live – and to win a four-year Florida college scholarship!   

Public servants are so embedded in the daily operations of life on a local, state, and national level that it can be easy to take their roles for granted. Contests like this provide us with the opportunity to celebrate African Americans whose public service ought not go unnoticed.

For this contest, students in grades 4-12 can write about an African American public servant whom they know personally, or someone whom they admire from afar, someone living today, or perhaps someone whose legacy they choose to honor. Students in grades K-3 are invited to participate in an art contest developing the same theme.

There are so many great African American public servants in Florida – many of whom are trailblazers in their field – that settling on just one to write no more than 500 words about may be difficult! However, if you’re struggling to find just the right person to write about, you might consider one these public servants whose impact on Florida has been noteworthy:

Frederica Wilson, an educator turned school board member, current Congresswoman, and founder of the 5000 Role Models program which focuses on helping underprivileged students graduate high school and have meaningful post-secondary opportunities.

Jessica Davis, a Volusia County high school teacher by day, and the first African American female ever elected to the DeLand City Commission.

Lady Dhyana Ziegler, Board of Trustee member at FLVS, Dean of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), and chair of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Andrew Gillum, the youngest member ever elected Tallahassee’s City Commission, former Mayor of Tallahassee, and the first African American nominee for governor in Florida.

Val Demings, a former police officer and the first woman ever to serve as Chief of Police for Orlando Police Department, who now continues her public service as congresswoman for Florida’s 10th congressional district.

Val’s husband, Jerry Demings, who spent his public service career as a police officer, a sheriff, and now serves as the first African American mayor of Orange County.

Aramis Ayala, a cancer survivor who became Florida’s first African American state attorney.

For more information about the contest, visit FloridaBlackHistory.com.

Darcey AddoDarcey Addo is a National Board Certified teacher who has been teaching at FLVS since 2009. She has a Master’s degree in Teacher Leadership and Urban Education and is currently pursuing a PhD in Leadership, Policy and Change in Education. Darcey is an Examiner for the Florida Sterling Council and has a keen interest in process and performance improvement. In her local community, she serves as an adult member of the Youth Advisory Board to the Mayor, helping students get involved in local government and community activism.

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