Black History Month Interview with Coach Griffin ’92

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Rudy Cazenave '21 , News Writer

Senior Rudy Cazenave had the opportunity to speak with Coach Anthony Griffin ‘92 about this year’s Black History Month celebration at St. Pat’s.

Rudy: What do you think the Black History Month celebration means to St. Pat’s? What are we trying to accomplish?

Coach Griffin: I think it means different things to different people in the building. I think some people might not think about it at all. For some it’s just another day or month to them, but for some it’s giving them a sense of self, especially some of the Black students in the building.

A lot of the teachers I’ve spoken to appreciate the program because it’s allowed students to have a different conversation they may not have ever had before or had the opportunity to have or even thought about having. With some of the things we’ve added in like the student-written poems and essays, participation has been great so far. Also, Art students looking at Black artists and mimicking their work has been terrific as well. We are also trying to encourage learning, learning about a culture that you might not have learned about before. Black History Month is about teaching that Black History is American History.

Rudy: What kind of impression would you like to leave on our students and the St. Pat’s community for future Black History Month celebrations?

Coach Griffin: I would like to see it grow in participation. This is our first year, so we are just getting our feet wet and letting students know why this month is important and that it’s something to celebrate. I believe that as we grow in our efforts, participation will grow. I’d also like students to run it, so we would like to start a Black Student Union and charge them with running this thing because when it is student led, it brings a little more importance to it.

Rudy: You just mentioned this is the first year. My next question is about how this celebration has changed. I know I haven’t experienced anything like this in my four years at St. Pat’s. When you were a student, was there anything like it?

Coach Griffin: A long time ago, Rudy, so back in 1992 which is kind of hard to remember, I reached out and asked some of my classmates about it and, at the time, all we really did was an announcement similar to the PA announcements we do now. I know other schools with home rooms, schools I’ve worked at in the past, decorate their doors with African American history or artists. We don’t have home room, but we have certain classes like History or English we may be able to utilize. I would like to continue to see student-written poems and essays and then see where it goes from there. Just as long as it continues to grow and allows students to bring their ideas to the table as well.

Rudy: You’ve already mentioned growing, and that was my last question: What can we do to build on this year? Any other ideas on how to build it up?

Coach Griffin: Just participation and the awareness that it’s bringing to people about the Black culture. Having people get a better understanding of the imprint that Black people have in the United States and how that culture helped build the country that we live in now. Also, allowing people to go out and do their own studying as well. Dr. Carter G. Woodson established this as a week at first and then it grew into a month and that was the sole purpose: Get people to study and learn about African American and Black culture. I would also like to see a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Fair hosted during the month and organized by the Black Student Union, who can create even more ideas for the celebration.

Rudy: So, you’d like people to take this month as an inspiration and then go ahead and…?

Coach Griffin: And build on it, build on it in your homes. have the discussion in your homes and in your community, with your friends, and with your family. Just continue to build on it and learn. I think the knowledge about other cultures will help combat racism as well because the more you know about something, the less you are afraid of it and the less you want to engage so all of those things I think would be really important.

Rudy: Those are really great words. Thank you, Coach. Anything else you’d like to add?

Coach Griffin: This is just a start. I believe multiculturalism and multicultural programs should be at the forefront at St. Pat’s because at St. Pat’s we have our own culture and Brotherhood but there are also so many different subcultures and things in the building that need to be celebrated.

I think multicultural programs are important anywhere you go because you need to learn about people – all people. Like I said, it helps combat the negative feelings you may have and the negative stereotypes you have about other people and other cultures by learning about them.

The Saint Patrick community is grateful to Coach Griffin for leading our school in our first Black History Month celebration, and hope it is the first of many to come.