Racial Equity: 2000 Seattle Teachers To Wear BLM Shirts To Class

Some 2000 Seattle teachers dressed in Black Lives Matter T-shirt on Wednesday to call for racial equity.

Following the threat received by one of the districts elementary school over a Black community outreach program held last month, about 2000 teachers were clad in Black Lives Matter T-shirts on Wednesday as a sign of solidarity with the school. The teachers staged the demonstration in the quest for racial equity. We have put together carefully selected findings of the event from the following sources:

REAL CHANGE

A group of teachers, parents and advocates held a press conference on Oct. 12 at the Garfield Community Center declaring their intention to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts on Oct. 19 in a demonstration racial equality. Teachers across the district have also coordinated special lesson plans that are “Black lives-centric” and have a rally planned at Washington Hall that evening. Read more.

KIRO 7

Teachers, students and parents across Seattle public schools wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts Wednesday to promote racial equity in schools.

Event organizers say many educators in Washington’s largest school district are voluntarily using the day to lead discussions about institutional racism, teach about black history and hold rallies.

Organizer Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School, said the day of action also offers opportunities to address racial inequities in Seattle schools.

About 53 percent of the district’s 53,000 students are non-white, with blacks making up the largest minority group at 16 percent.

“It’s also important to understand that for black lives to matter, black education has to matter,” Hagopian told KUOW-FM “This movement is also broader than police accountability. In a school system as dramatically unequal as ours, it’s incumbent upon educators and families to stand up and say something about this.”

About 2,000 “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts quickly sold out, and hundreds more were printed, he said. Some people posted photos on social media Wednesday showing them wearing those shirts or wearing their own spray-painted ones.

Teachers and students stood in front of Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central District, a historically black neighborhood, chanting “black lives matter,” holding signs and speeches. Read more.

EDUCATION WEEK

Social Equality Educators, a group of teachers in the Seattle Education Association who are hosting the event, ordered more than 700 shirts that say “Black Lives Matter” and “We Stand Together” for the day of solidarity, according to the Seattle Times. Participating educators at elementary, middle, and high schools across the district will gather for rallies before and after school, teach about racism and black history, and meet with community members for a district-wide discussion about how to better support black students.

And though the event is not affiliated with the Seattle school district, it falls during the district’s “Day of Unity,” which is meant to draw attention to racial equality and the district’s #ClosetheGap campaign, an effort to remove opportunity gaps for all students, including students of color.

“We respect our teachers’ rights and desire to express themselves,” the district said in a statement to the Seattle Times. “While t-shirts are a visual, we hope the message inspires people to do the work to eliminate opportunity gaps.”

The efforts come after the district’s John Muir Elementary School canceled an event last month in which more than 100 black men planned to gather in the school parking lot and welcome students. The plan was to combat negative stereotypes, and some teachers were going to wear Blacks Lives Matter shirts in support, but the school canceled the event after receiving at least one threatening phone call, the Times reported. Many people still came to high-five students on the day the event was scheduled. Read more.

THE SEATTLE TIMES

Teacher Diana Romero said she decided to wear a shirt “to support our black brothers and sisters in support for justice.” As a Latina, she said she has seen firsthand the unfair treatment of people of color by police officers.

A sixth-grade class from nearby Denny International Middle School, whose teacher brought them to the Sealth rally, wore Black Lives Matter stickers. Teacher Ben Evans said he wanted them to see how their voices can be heard. Many of his students are aware of racial inequities already, he added.

Black Lives Matter At School” wasn’t sponsored by the school district, but it coincides with Seattle Public Schools’ “day of unity,” aimed at bringing more attention to racial equity in education. The district said in a statement that it has asked students, family, staff and community members to “engage and join the conversation in our united efforts to eliminate opportunity gaps.” As a public institution, the district doesn’t take official positions on social or political movements, district spokesman Luke Duecy said in a statement earlier this week.

 

Because Wednesday’s rally at Sealth was not an official district event, teachers were told to leave before students started arriving for school. But members of the Black Student Union (BSU) remained until the start of classes.

For BSU President Precious Manning, 17, the rally and shirts represented the international school coming together in solidarity. Black Lives Matter means making sure everyone is included, she said.

“Black Lives Matter means ‘don’t leave us out,’ ” she said.

Another “Black Lives Matter At School” rally is planned for Wednesday evening at Washington Hall, where activists and artists, including Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson, will perform and speak about racial equity. Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett is also expected to attend.

The event is from 6-8 p.m. at Washington Hall, 154 14th Ave., in Seattle’s Central District. Read more.

 

The rate at which racism is widely spreading into every sector of the American society, it has become vital we teach our kids to stand for their rights. The call for racial equity is important and very much needed in our educational system because Black kids are the most affected by such practices in schools. We recommend the teachers and parents for their commitment to social justice. We won’t relent on our effort until racism is completely kicked out of our country.

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