Fuchsia Ward was born one of twelve on a plantation, in the midst of segregation in Arkansas and moved to Bakersfield and an integrated school system 60 years ago.
She’s spent the last few decades making a difference, first at the Bakersfield City School District, then at the Kern High School District. She has been an educator, then a volunteer, whether at KHSD, Friendship House or community school sites.
“I don’t know if there’s anything special that I do,” Ward said. “This is just my life.”
As far as KHSD Black History Program Committee organizers, Janell Burton and Kesha Owens are concerned, what Ward does is special.
“She was the first for us, paving the way for us,” said Burton, who is also a district resource counselor and Young Women Empowered in Leadership advisor at KHSD.
That’s why she is of the four standout Black change-makers involved with the district, that will be featured on KHSD’s “Pioneers of Bakersfield” series every week during Black History Month. Although Burton, born and raised in Bakersfield, says there are way more.
“We just want to recognize people in the community that have done some great things, that have not been able to tell their story so that others can know that the road may be hard, but it can be manageable,” said Owens, who is also the Math Department Chair at East Bakersfield High School and a fellow YWEL Advisor at KHSD.
Owens says that every school in KHSD individually is doing something for Black History Month, but the Black History Month Planning Committee has created a district-wide collective to highlight them all on the Kern High Network. It’s been in the works for a couple years with the superintendency, black student union, you women powerful empowered for leadership and project best.
“In school we didn’t learn a lot about our African-American history as Kesha may have in [East] St. Louis,” Burton said. “I got my African-American history from my family, the community, and my church. I think it’s important that we educate our students nationally but locally.”
Features of the Program Include:
- A digital classroom that will highlight different facets of African-American Culture and History.
-Videos of students cooking cuisines from their culture
-A Black heritage virtual watch party on Feb. 25th after classes at 1:30 p.m. featuring a speaker, students giving Black history facts, and student performances, like a violinist performing a piece from an African American composer. This will be on Facebook and the Kern High Network.
Future Pioneers of Bakersfield Features:
-Lyle Martin, former Bakersfield Police Department Chief.
-Benny Wofford, the KHSD safety manager who is also a retired Kern County Fire Chief
-The late Karyn Bostick, who passed away in December. She taught dance at the MLK Center.
-Morgan Clayton, who owns Tel-Tec locally and is involved in Leaders for Life, an event for students