Artist Zahirah Truth visits Upper School to celebrate Black joy

This week, artist Zahirah Truth spoke to students about the meaning of Black joy and what it means to celebrate it. The assembly not only gave students a moment to celebrate Black History Month, it also showcased how Black History can be celebrated year-round.

The presentation started with an introduction from Beaver’s Chief Engagement & Inclusion Officer Delonte Egwuatu. Mr. Egwuatu read an excerpt from The Black Joy Project and asked students to consider what joy means to them, which prompted various responses. As one student shared, “joy means pure happiness and just enjoying the moment. You gotta stay positive every day.” Another question encouraged students to think about where at school they feel a sense of joy. Responses included;

I feel joy when I’m in Black Affinity or at BSU.


I feel joy when I’m in Senior Studio.

Students contribute to a collective art piece following the presentation.

Zahirah Truth began her presentation with an interactive activity challenging audience members to decode popular acronyms derived from Black culture such as B.O.T.W.C! (“because of them, we can!”) and W.H.H.W. (“what had happened was”). The activity highlighted the influence Black culture has over common slang and pop culture itself.

Truth showcased various Black artists, touched on the history of Black stories in media, and shared a bit about her own journey as an artist. Following this, students were prompted to participate in a collective art piece by writing down what Black joy means to them on a shared canvas. Words included “community,” “resilience,” and “confidence.” The finished piece will be displayed on campus.

Zahirah’s visit to our community helped us think more broadly about why Black history is considered world history. From her visit to the Black Joy class to the US Meeting, she elevated the conversation around the importance of reframing the Black experience in America to one of a thriving narrative. Whenever I see the collective art piece the US student made, it will be a powerful reminder that Black joy permeates throughout the world.

-Delonte Egwuatu, Chief Engagement & Inclusion Officer

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