Civic Scholars Gephardt News

Class Acts: The Advocates

This story was originally featured in The Source (April 23, 2021)

Logan Phillips advocates for more Black history within the K-12 education curriculum. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Senior Logan Phillips calls Black History Month “a time for blissful remembrance and celebration.” But is that all there is?

“Black History Month needs to go beyond those 28 days because people were Black before those days started and they will be Black beyond those days,” said Phillips, who is set to graduate with a dual degree in African and African-American studies and sociology from Arts & Sciences.

Phillips wants better. 

“Narratives for Black history are often narrow, focusing only on enslavement or popular activists like Rosa Parks,” Phillips said.

Logan Phillips

Degree: Bachelor’s in African and African-American studies and sociology, Arts & Sciences

Hometown: St. Louis

The first-year seminar, “Self and Identity in African-American Literature,” opened Phillips’ eyes to gaps in K-12 education. The seminar discussed figures like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and programs like the Federal Housing Administration.

“I recalled learning about some of these topics, but here we looked at them from a different lens, one that centered the Black experience and struggle,” Phillips said. “I realized I had only been told part of the story.”

Today, Phillips is working to create a new story. As an intern at the National Black Child Development Institute, Phillips found culturally relevant books for its “Love To Read” program and supported its mission to expand early childhood education for Black children. As a City Faces mentor, Phillips introduced her teenaged mentee to the Griot Museum of Black History. And as a Learning Lodge tutor to a first-grader, Phillips uses books with characters of color, including those that reflect her student’s own heritage.

Phillips reflects on these experiences, shares resources and amplifies the work of Black educators and community leaders on her site, which she developed as a Mary and Tom Stillman Civic Scholar with the Gephardt Institute.

“I believe that education is something that extends beyond the physical walls of a K-12 classroom,” writes Phillips, who plans to earn a PhD in African and African-American studies. “Ensuring that this awareness is amplified across different groups, identities and backgrounds in an effort to advance a collective mindset that centers coalition and solidarity is critical.”

— Diane Toroian Keaggy