The school board approved the resolution on Thursday making it one of the first school districts in the state of Maryland to do so. On Monday, the first day, people were encouraged to wear all black.
FOX 5’s Anjali Hemphill visited Parkdale High School where she found lots of participation but also some opposition. Hemphill says some students watched a video called “The Talk,” when she visited on Monday. “The Talk” is an example of one of several films and books that are recommended by the teacher’s union for “Black Lives Matter Week of Action.”
Organizers say “Black Lives Matter Week of Action” is about encouraging conversation and reflection about social justice in schools. “We start this conversation in schools because for many people and for many students, this is community. This is where you learn and where you talk to your peers. Maybe your professors and advisor that are going to advise you later on in life. So school is the most appropriate place to have these conversations,” said Joshua Omolola, a Parkdale High School student.
Participation is not mandatory, only encouraged. Hemphill said she spoke to both students and teachers who are excited to incorporate this subject into a week that is already being spent celebrating Black History Month. Hemphill said she also spoke to a teacher who didn’t want to go on camera in fear of retaliation. The teacher, who is an African American woman, says she does not support “Black Lives Matter Week of Action” and is very concerned about this new resolution passed by the board.
“I’m uncomfortable because I don’t believe in their thirteen principles – and I’m an African American. But I don’t believe in their cause. I don’t particularly want to try and teach anybody about their thirteen principles because I don’t believe in their thirteen principles. I’m also a parent, and my children go to Prince George’s County Public School, and I don’t want a teacher trying to teach my children about “Black Lives Matter,” said the unnamed teacher.
“I haven’t had a kid to walk out of my classroom. Only kid I’ve had – we’ve had discussions, and we’ve had heated discussions in the class. For some reason the students that are in this school are really – I guess because it’s so diverse – they are really good with respecting each other’s opinions,” said Neville Adams, and English and student government teacher at Parkdale.
Hemphill said she asked the board if they would allow other activist groups to have a “Week of Action” in their schools. The board said they would consider other ideas that encourage tolerance, equity and social justice.