CHS Black Student Union Hold Walkout for Racial Justice
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Some students in Charlottesville are demanding leaders address and denounce racism after a threat shut down city schools last week.
Students from Charlottesville High School (CHS) walked out of classes around noon Monday, March 25. The CHS Black Student Union led a march to McIntire Park. Students were joined by member of Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville during Monday’s event, which aimed to bring attention to race issues at the high school.
"We wanted to focus what we had concerns about, because there are a lot of issues in Charlottesville, in our schools, in our school system," said organizer Althea Laughon-Worrell.
"It was a good opportunity to let people know that we care and that we're here to support everyone, everyone in the school black or brown students," organizer Tamya Bruce said.
The walkout comes after an online post last week threatened "an ethnic cleansing" at Charlottesville High School. Police arrested a 17-year-old in Albemarle County on Friday, March 22. The minor is charged with threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property, and harassment by computer. Authorities said the suspect was not a city student.
Charlottesville City Schools were closed out of caution both Thursday and Friday.
"We support our students’ right to voice their feelings. And in light of the racist comments that were made directed at our African American, our Latino students, it's only natural that they want to… they'd want to come together and voice their concerns," CHS Principal Eric Irizarry said.
The Black Student Union also issued a list of demands that included more teachers of color in higher level classes, requiring an African-American history class, and additional training for all school resource officers. Irizarry said the Charlottesville School Board received a similar list back in October, and that they're, “working on the demands."
School leaders add that they support the walkout, and most of those who left had parent permission to leave school grounds.
03/25/2019 Release from the Charlottesville High School Black Student Union:
Charlottesville, VA -- The Charlottesville High School Black Student Union is leading a Walkout for Racial Justice and Equity this Monday, March 25th, at noon, beginning at Charlottesville High School. In the wake of the recent school closings due to threats of racial violence that targeted Black and Brown students, the students of Charlottesville High School are calling on the Charlottesville City Schools to address racism in all its forms.
Student leaders are calling attention to the following demands:
- Charlottesville City Schools denounce and call out RACISM against Black and Brown students.
- African American History class to hold the same weight as an honors history course, not an elective.
- The hiring of more Black teachers, especially in CORE CLASS honors, AP, honors and DE studies.
- Extended resources, in addition to AVID, for future Black and Brown first generation college students.
- Discipline Reform - End the excessive suspending and policing of Black middle and high school students by creating a diverse governing board of staff, students, and parents to oversee equitable and effective discipline.
- Test EVERY student for Quest.
- Apply Mental Health practices that are culturally relevant and racially aware.
- A high standard for programming associated with Black History. No one should have the opportunity to opt out of Black History.
- Racial bias and cultural sensitivity training for all School Resource Officers.
- Implement the same locked door and buzzer system currently used by the elementary schools at Walker, Buford, and Charlottesville High School, to ensure the safety of the student body as a whole and the staff.
The Black Student Union’s demands have been endorsed by:
- Black Lives Matter - Charlottesville
- Central Americans for Empowerment at the University of Virginia
- Charlottesville area chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America
- Charlottesville-area Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition
- Charlottesville High School Amnesty International
- Congregate Charlottesville
- Dr. Wes Bellamy, councilman
- Hate-Free Schools Coalition of Albemarle County
- Indivisible Charlottesville
- Legal Aid Justice Center
- NAACP at the University of Virginia
- Restoration Village Arts
- Showing Up for Racial Justice - Charlottesville
- The Civil Rights Club at the University of Mary Washington
- University of Virginia Black Student Alliance
- University of Virginia Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society
- University of Virginia Students United
- Virginia Student Power Network