Extending Black Excellence Beyond Black History Month

Last school year, my twin sons were in 4th grade. In Indiana, Hoosier students learn about Indiana history and typically complete a famous Hoosier assignment. I completed this assignment back in the 90s as an Indiana student, but to my surprise, the assignment seemed unchanged from the 90s.

My sons were in the same class, and their teacher provided them with a list of 65 Hoosier to choose from for a research project. Of the 65 people my sons had to choose from, one person was Native American, eight were Black, and the rest, 56 people, were white. Only ten people were female. It is easy to complain, but it takes work to bring a solution.

Black Excellend Series - Interviews Hosted by Educator BarnesI began researching to find a list of Black Hoosiers my sons’ teacher could use in future years. I did not only want to complain, but as a fellow educator, I wanted to provide resources. In addition to the list, I provided links about each Black Hoosier. You never know how pointing out an issue, even though you come with solutions as well, will go. It went well. The teacher thanked me for pointing this out and providing resources. The list I shared was shared with the entire fourth grade.

Later, I thought, Is this enough? What more can I do?

This led me to create the Black Excellence: 30 Hoosier Profiles series last February during Black History Month. I highlighted 30 Black people who were either born in Indiana or made Indiana their home at some point during their lives. The presentation highlighted Black Hoosiers who are no longer with us and those who are currently blazing a historic trail. Students and teachers had access to short video clips of me recounting their accomplishments and included resources where students and teachers could learn more.

“Let’s meet those who exude Black Excellence throughout the year.”

As Black History Month came to a close and the year continued, I kept receiving notifications from students for access to the slide deck (they forgot to make a copy). This error let me know students were learning about Black history makers throughout the year. I was elated to know there are educators who are diversifying their curriculum throughout the year.

This led me again to ask myself, What more can I do?

Starting this February, I will begin interviewing Black Hoosiers who are exemplifying Black Excellence. To keep in alignment with the belief that Black History Month is more than February, I will be interviewing those who exude Black Excellence throughout the year.  I hope you are inspired by the first interview with Emil Ekiyor.

If you know someone I should interview, please complete my contact form.


  • Educator Barnes is a married mother of identical twin boys. She is currently a middle school academic dean and CEO and co-founder of Barnes Brothers Books, LLC, a publishing company with a focus on producing diverse books for all readers. Previously, she has served as an English teacher, English learners teacher, literacy coach, college instructor, and librarian. She is also an education writer and editor-in-chief for Indy K12, hosts the podcast Brazen Education, and moderates Indianapolis Recorder’s EdGems. In her spare time, she is an urban gardener and writes about her harvest to table journey at www.gardenershicole.com. Go to www.educatorbarnes.com to learn more.

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