Today our Black History Month spotlight shines on All Our Kin’s North Bronx Educational Coach Sandra Massey! While Sandra believes that every day is a day to celebrate black history, she says, “Black History Month is a time where my culture is celebrated, and we pay homage to those that laid the foundation for us today.”
Sandra dedicates her life to teaching her grandchildren about her rich heritage and faith. Every February, she coordinates a Black History Month program for the children in her church, educating them on historical black figures. Read on to learn more about Sandra!
What do you love most about what you do day in and day out?
I derive joy from working with the children and Educators. I learn something new in every interaction that I have with them in their programs. My belief is that my calling in life is to work with children and give back to my community by paying it forward in my work.
How long have you worked with All Our Kin?
I have worked with All Our Kin for 14 months.
What inspired you to join this field and do this important work?
I had a fifth-grade teacher Ms. Pryor who made learning fun and was passionate about teaching. She would encourage and speak greatness into her student's spirits. Ms. Pryor would always tell me, "one day, you will be a great teacher." I started working in the NYC Dept. of Education as a Paraprofessional and decided to become a Special Education Teacher. I taught special education for 18 years before becoming an Educational Director.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
While every day is a day to celebrate Black history, Black History Month is a time when we give special recognition to the Black pioneers, innovators, and creators that paved the way for individuals like me. As a Black/African-American woman myself, Black History Month is a time where my culture is celebrated, and we pay homage to those that laid the foundation for us today. It is a time when we can rejoice in being Black. In a country rooted in discrimination, racism, and injustice, Black History Month is a time when we commemorate Black excellence and the significant contributions that changed history. We celebrate not just MLK Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, but also George Washington Carver, Shirley Chisolm, Maya Angelou, and so much more. Black History Month is a time where we recognize those who crawled, so we could walk in order for our future Black heroes to run. It may be one month, but it's celebrated by me every day as a proud BLACK woman!
Do you have any special ways that you celebrate Black History Month in your program and/or with your family?
I celebrate Black History Month every day by teaching my grandchildren about their rich culture and heritage. Also, being deeply rooted in my spiritual beliefs and the upbringing of my village, that were strong women with deep faith. In church every February, I help coordinate the Black History Program to teach the children about their history. In past programs, we dedicated the whole month to learning about historical black figures, performances, read-aloud, parents bring in objects from their culture to share, and we end with a multicultural luncheon.
What historical black figure has inspired you the most? Can you share a quote or lesson that you’ve learned from them?
I have so many historical black figures that inspire me, but the one that stands out in my mind is Maya Angelou. Outside of my mom, she has had a tremendous impact on my life. When I read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," it really moved me, and my love for poetry made me admire Maya Angelou. My one regret is I never got to meet her in person before she died. The quote that speaks to me spiritually and my being is... “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
More about Sandra
Family is the really important to me, and a lot of who I am and what I do is rooted in family ties. My children, grandchildren, and dog bring me joy. The holidays are special to me because that is when all my family gets together to eat, have fun and celebrate with one another. It is also the time I get to cook big meals, which I really enjoy doing. Another activity I enjoy is vacationing with my daughter and granddaughter.