Student in the Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa Country staged a walkout protest after the school administration reportedly told them that the Black History Month events at the school would not be allowed to reference anything that happened before the 1970s, including the slave trade, civil rights movement, and the Black Panthers — the Associated Press has reported.
In February, every year since 1976, the nation marks the Black History Month to commemorate and honour the contributions and sacrifices of the Black Americans. The Black History Month is a federally recognized celebration of Black Americans contributions, a sombre moment to reflect on the historical injustice meted out to the race and a time to vow for racial justice.
Schools and educational institutes across the country hold seminars, plays, lectures and events to mark the event. Businesses offer Black-themed services and products.
The Hillcrest High School students have also accused their school administration of systemic bias and racism against Black students. High School senior Jamiyah Brown told the protesters in a speech, “we decided that we needed to bring attention to some issues here at Hillcrest High School that school administration has failed to adequately address.” Jamiyah further added that Black students were “targeted and punished unjustly without justifiable reasoning.”
“We are disrespected and the administration has created a climate of intimidation and bullying towards those that challenge authority,” she continued. “When our parents seek to address these issues, the administration responds in a dismissive and hostile manner.”
Brown alleged that she was told by a White high school administrator that instead of focusing on Martin Luther King Jr. and other historical events like slavery and Reconstruction, the student-organizers of the Black History Month should include more “current” figures like Beyonce and avoid the “old stuff.”
The school has, however, denied these claims. In a statement released to WVUA, spokesman for Hillcrest High School said, “The Black History Month/Unity program at Hillcrest High School is student-created and student-led. It is not true that faculty or staff supervising the program told students that history prior to 1970 could not be included in the program. This is a rumor started by someone not part of the student group creating the program. When several community members heard this rumor and contacted Hillcrest High administration out of concern, administration explained that this was false information that was circulating.”