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3 middle schoolers celebrate Black history by sharing what it means to them

These teens and tweens know this: “Black history is now and it’s still happening.”
/ Source: TODAY

As we celebrate Black history in February, TODAY's Sheinelle Jones spoke to three middle schoolers about what their history means to them — and their observations were enlightening.

Jordan Greene, who is 13 years old and lives in Brooklyn, New York, told Sheinelle over video chat why everyone should be educated on Black history.

"I feel like it should be every day that Black people should be celebrated for our accomplishments," she said, adding that America was built on the backs of slaves. "I think it’s basically the foundation of it because slaves did build this country."

As the only Black girl in her class, Jordan noted that it can sometimes be "really difficult" when she and her classmates would learn about slavery.

"When we talked about slavery, I kind of felt all of the eyes on me," she said. "It felt a little weird."

Jordan said she would try to combat that feeling by participating more in her class.

"I kind of try to prove myself — like, I raise my hand for all the questions," she added. "But I feel like all of my classmates are really kind."

Related: 9 inspiring Black American heroes you might not know about, but should

As for 12-year-old Mason Williams of Roanoke, Virginia, he doesn't really see a lot of positive representation of Black people in his history books.

"It's mainly slavery," he said.

McKenzey Edmondson, an 11-year-old from Nashville, agreed. "Like, we’ll have slavery, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and that’s usually it," she said. "We’re doing a little bit more, but not so much."

Related: 21 inspiring quotes celebrating Black history to share with your kids

Thanks to Mason's mom, who made him a "Black History Month jar" at home, Mason has been learning about successful Black people all over the world. The glass jar is filled with the names of people in the Black community who have made a difference. Each day, Mason picks out a name and learns all about that person.

“Every morning when I get ready for school, we pick our names," he shared. "Today was Mae Jemison, the first African American female to go into space."

Related: 11 surprising Black history facts to teach your kids

Mason, McKenzey and Jordan are aware of what's been going on in the news. They noticed that more people are taking to the streets to protest police brutality against minorities. This alone made Jordan want to stand up for what's right.

"My friends and I, we kind of organized protests in the park," she said. "And I was really proud of myself that I’d done something so big for my community."

"It tells me that our voices are a lot bigger than I thought it was," Jordan added.

As she gets older, Jordan wants the world to know one thing.

"I want people to know that Black history is now and it’s still happening," she said.