On January 28th at 4:00 PM, Seattle Public Schools educators and allies gathered for a press conferences about the upcoming Black Lives Matter at School Week. The Black Lives Matter at School Week started on February 4th and will be extended to February 12th due to the snow days.
At the press conference, educators, students, and allies spoke about the importance of Black Lives Matter at School Week. In addition, Jesse Hagopian, author of Teaching for Black Lives and one of the key people in planning this week, listed the demands for Black Lives Matter at School Week:
- End Zero Tolerance
- Mandate Black History & Ethnic Studies
- Hire More Black Teachers
- Fund Counselors Not Cops
The inclusion of youth voices was especially powerful. One student from the NAACP Youth Coalition said that she is lucky because her parents can teach her about their history and culture. However, she realizes that other students had their history stolen away from them due to slavery and other injustices. Therefore, Black Lives Matter at School Week is a step in the right direction to regain this history and Ethnic Studies is the ultimate solution. Another students shared the importance of this week for White students, too. During Black Lives Matter at School, White students will learn about other races and cultures and their importance as allies in this work.
The racist depiction on a Roosevelt High School magazine cover was also addressed. When asked about the event by a reporter, Sebrena Burr, past president of the Seattle Council PTSA, stated, “So often, when people misstep we want to blame and shame, but this is an opportunity for us, as a district, to get it right.” In addition, Tracy Castro-Gill, Ethnic Studies Program Manager, identified the incident for what it was: a “product of the system”. Burr, Castro-Gill, and others acknowledged that this event shows the need for racial equity work, such as Black Lives Matter at School, in our school district.
Many educators have been getting ready for the week with their schools and Racial Equity Teams. For instance, Concord International started to prepare their educators last week with Staff Informational Sessions in the morning. They aim to help prepare educators to do justice while teaching the Black Lives Matter at Schools curriculum, instead of teaching it at a surface-level or doing further harm with any misconceptions.
Check out our resources on the Black Lives Matter at Schools page to find out how you can still get involved!