About nine out of ten students at Montpelier High School are white, and just one in twenty is black, but students and faculty all agree: Black Lives Matter. In a student-driven effort to increase inclusion, the Vermont school, which has just 18 black students out of 350, is flying the BLM flag all February long in a history-making first for any U.S. high school. How does one of the whitest states in the country end up being the site of such a milestone? The credit goes first to the students.
Montpelier Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Ricca says the school board made the decision unanimously after working for a year with the student-led Racial Justice Alliance.
Ricca says the alliance shared “some very candid — and quite honestly — very difficult things that they heard” as students in Montpelier Public School. “As a result, we began conversations as adults about how to address that.”
The senior who founded the Racial Justice Alliance spoke out about the importance of equal education.
“People choose their flags because they want to [be] represented and they want to be seen,” student Joelyn Mensah said. “We students do not feel like we are represented or seen in our education and we are here to raise the flag because we want to be seen and we will demand to be represented in our education.”
The flag’s initial raising on February 1 drew a crowd of “a couple hundred people,” with attendees not just from the Montpelier community. Students were bussed in from across the school district and the state. Bit by symbolic bit, a small group of students and faculty worked to raise the flag together.
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