Apr 28, 2017


Stay Woke Day

On Wednesday, April 26th, 8th Grade students coordinated a “Stay Woke Day” for the Greene Street Friends School community. The day was developed out of our Affinity Group curriculum that encourages students to delve deeper into their various, intersecting identities, each affinity group provides a safe space for students to discuss race, gender, and sexual orientation with their peers.


The day coincided with GSFS’s annual Social Studies Expo, during which each class creates an interactive activity to teach fellow students about an area of study. Students from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th Grade led various activities for their classmates to learn more about African American history and culture. Activities included: Biomes of Africa (1st Grade), Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement (3rd and 4th Grades), Immigration (6th Grade), African American Heroes (7th Grade), and The Great Migration (8th Grade). 5th Grade students examined skin color and humankind’s roots in Ethiopia.


After  teaching classmates, Middle School students heard from speaker Mai Spann-Wilson. Spann-Wilson is a Philadelphia-based poet, singer, and songwriter. Spann-Wilson read an original poem entitled “Sankofa”. Sankofa refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol of a bird with its feet pointed forward, but neck craned back. The bird symbolizes the need to remember your history and roots while looking forward. Spann-Wilson asked students to write down one thing that they were proud of and another that they were not proud of from their own family histories. Students said they were proud of, “Having each other’s back, coming from hardworking families, long history of Quakers who fought for equal rights, and having a military background.” Students said they were not proud of, “Family might have owned slaves, family members in jail, or individuals struggling with addiction.”


Students then discussed the history of slavery in the U.S. and enduring racism, including covert and overt forms. Spann-Wilson then opened the floor for questions. Students asked what to do if younger students made unintentionally racist statements, impact of slavery on African American individuals’ genealogy research,  cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation, the idea of color blindness, and whether or not African Americans could be racist against other African Americans.


8th Grade students then led discussions around privilege, stereotypes, and racial identity. 7th Grade students discussed microaggressions. Students ended their day in Affinity Groups and debriefed the day with teachers. We look forward to continued conversation and are proud of our students for their initiative in sparking important dialogues. 

To purchase t-shirts to commemorate this day, please visit: https://www.customink.com/g/ken0-00az-ksfr