TOAD Talk: So Much More Than One Month

An honor and responsibility for the TOAD (teacher on active duty) most Mondays is to give what’s called a TOAD Talk at the day’s Assembly. The topics of each talk are completely up to the TOAD and have ranged from sea slugs and feminism to vampire bats and glitter. A recent talk by science instructor Dietrich Shuhl focused on women's history month and the nomination of the first black female Supreme Court Justice. Read on for a transcript of his talk.
Here we are on February the 28th, the last day of the month, the last day of Black History month, and a day before we step into women’s history month. So as we flip the page on the calendar, I want to take a brief moment to celebrate a person who is making history right now as the first black woman ever to be nominated for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. If you missed the news last week, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was officially nominated by President Biden to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer who will retire from the bench this summer. She is arguably one of the most qualified nominees in years. I have faith that Judge Jackson will make it through and establish herself in our country’s history. After all, KBJ has the same kinda ring as RBG who you will recall had quite a legendary run on the Supreme Court. 

This is a very important moment in American History and worth a much deeper dive than I can give it with this brief talk so let me put a finer point on it. Black women have been instrumental to the success of our nation since before its inception and yet, KBJ is the first and only black woman out of 115 previous Supreme Court Justices to even be nominated for the role. If you doubt the depths of institutional racism that exist in our country, please consider that fact once again and honestly ask yourself, “why did it take so long?”

Of course, Judge Jackson is also a woman so we can keep on celebrating her for another whole month. And if you question why we need a women’s History Month, keep in mind that she is only the 6th of 115 Supreme Court justices to be female. So to get a jumpstart on Women’s History Month, I want you to take just 30 seconds or so to turn to a person next to you and tell them which woman in history you would like to celebrate and why.

Given the contributions of so many inspiring women for so many years, let’s acknowledge that a single month should not be the limit of our celebration.  Nor should it be the limit of our celebration of black people. Yes, February is closing, but our eyes on Black History and the amazing people who bring it to life should not. 

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