Remembering the Forgotten

Tenley Rooney
On a mission: Liv '19

Isabella Baumfree.
Katherine Johnson.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
For many, these names are unfamiliar, and Sixth Former Liv Carter wants to change that.
Carter, one of the three leaders of Transitions, a student affinity group on grounds representing the perspectives of nearly 100 students who identify across 10 different backgrounds, made it her mission to reflect on the contributions of the unheard voices of the African American experience during Black History Month. For the second year in a row, Carter shares a profile of a notable African American with the School community four mornings a week during Chapel. To date, she has researched and discussed 33 individuals and six faculty members.
“It’s important to search for people and look in-depth for those history has forgotten or left behind because of their race, gender, or their sexual orientation,” says Carter. “(Black History Month) is a time of reflection. It’s about learning from the past so we can be better in the future.”
Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth, was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the 19th century; Johnson was among the African-American female mathematicians to work for NASA during the Space Race in the 1960s; Davis was commander of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
“Everyone knows Thurgood Marshall or Washington Carver,” says Carter. “I wanted to identify the more obscure contributors to black history.”
Carter, a dedicated ceramics student and member of the Chapel Council, hopes to minor in African American history in college. This project is just the first step. As head of Transitions, Carter and her peers help create a nexus among the diverse backgrounds at SPS, including Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, Women of Color, JCA, Swirl (students of multiracial backgrounds), the Hindu Society, the Muslim Society, Onyx, and Gay/Straight Alliance. Transitions is more than as a touchstone for students in these affinity groups; it also helps cultivate a conversation with the larger School community.
Carter expanded on her Chapel announcement project by interviewing SPS alumni women of color for an Independent Study Project (ISP). Carter designed this area of study to make a record of their experiences at the School. She's completed 14 interviews that span the reflections of female graduates from the 1970s to the current day and plans to compile them in a print publication.