Appreciation and Inspiration

Lauren Runde

There have been so many black artists in the arts who are so often not acknowledged in their respective industries. Therefore, in February, Black History Month is celebrated in hopes that these artists can gain more appreciation. Senior Caitlin Dvorak, senior Jackson Kilburg and junior Ava Challenger were each interviewed about black artists who inspire them and how they personally celebrate Black History Month. Dvorak is taking various art classes currently at Xavier High School, including Painting II. Kilburg has been in band since 6th grade and he plays trumpet in Jazz Band One and French horn for concert band. Challenger has been singing since she was little and is now in Xhilaration, Xavier Chorale and Voce.

Art: Caitlin Dvorak 

1. What black artists inspire you in your art and what is it that they do that inspires you?

“One artist who inspires me is Jean-Michel Basquiat. He is a street artist who is known for making impactful art that touches on topics such as the class divide, systematic racism and the power struggle. I find his art very powerful and meaningful, as well as just beautiful and amazing to look at.”

2. How do you get involved in Black History Month and how do you encourage others to take part in this?

“I think a good way for everyone to involve themselves in Black History Month is to educate themselves and listen. Xavier is a predominately white school, meaning most of us do not fully understand the struggles that people of color face daily. I try to educate myself more everyday and just listen to what people of color have to say. But I do certainly believe as a white person, I should continue to educate myself and learn how to use my privilege to promote the voices of people of color.”

Band: Jackson Kilburg

1. What black artist do you look up to in the instrumental realm and for what reasons?

“A black musician that inspires me is Miles Davis. By becoming one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, he proved that hard work can get you far. It doesn’t matter where you come from, but how much emotion you can pour into your music.”

2. Why do you find it important to celebrate Black History Month?

“It is important to celebrate Black History Month in order to gain a new perspective on how we should love each other.”

Choir: Ava Challenger

1. What black artists inspire you in music and why do they inspire you?

“Women like Ella Fitzgerald, Beyoncé and Chloe and Halle Bailey have inspired me. All of these women are so naturally talented, hardworking and have beautiful souls.”

2. Who else in the black community do you look up to and in what ways do they motivate you in your life?

“Joan Higginbotham is a black woman who works at NASA. The incredible thing about her is that despite her skin color and gender, she was seen as the best of the best in everything she did. She has won many awards for her work at NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. In December of 2006, she became the  third  black woman to have ever gone to space! One of my dreams is to be able to work at NASA. Even though I don’t want to go to space, I want to help people get there and come home safely. Seeing a black woman accomplish such great things in the STEM field is so inspiring to me!”

Throughout the rest of the month, take some time to educate yourself and celebrate Black History Month. 

“We have to remember that black people don’t just sing, dance, and entertain people. That stereotype is much more common than it seems,” Challenger said. 

With this being said, take the time to go beyond only celebrating black people in the arts. Donate to a black organization, support black businesses, stand up against racism and educate others about the month itself and why it is important to go beyond appreciating races only at this time during the year.  Black History Month  is more than a month,  one’s heritage  should always be respected and appreciated.