Nearly one month ago, Seattle school district officials cancelled a Black Lives Matter event at the city’s John Muir Elementary School following a security threat. But educators from that school and many others across the city got their chance to stand up against police violence during a city-wide action yesterday (October 19).
Nearly 2,000 educators wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts and held before-school rallies as part of the “Black Lives Matter At School” action. Several of the rallies, attended by students and parents as well, addressed police violence and the opportunity gaps that disproportionately impact students of color. For the 2015-2016 school year, Black students represented 15.7 percent of the district population; 53.5 percent of the students are people of color.
“All of my years I’ve been in school, this has never been talked about,” Bailey Adams, an African-American student at the city’s Garfield High School, told The Associated Press/KING 5 News. “Teachers have never said anything where they’re going to back their students of color.”
While the district did not sponsor the event, it did support the teachers’ rights to speak out on these issues. “We are united in our commitment to eliminate opportunity gaps,” said a district spokesperson to The Associated Press/KING 5 News. Teachers have a First Amendment right to wear their speech. We respect our teachers’ rights and desire to express themselves. T-shirts are a good visual. We hope the message inspires people to do the work on eliminating opportunity gaps.”
Conversations about racial equity continued in many classrooms, as well as at a rally at Seattle’s Washington Hall yesterday evening. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett appeared at the rally to show his support for the educators and movement:
The Seattle Times reports that the action was organized by members of Social Equality Educators, a group within the Seattle teachers’ union. Check out some photos and video, tweeted with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool, below:
CPub_Eagles) October 19, 2016
HS STAR Club (@bhsstarclub) October 20, 2016