Education leader Jesse Hagopian gathered with educators and students in front of the Central District’s Garfield High School Monday afternoon to rally for the Black Lives Matter at School effort in Seattle and beyond.
“Last year, one of our demands of the Black Lives Matter movement in schools was to have ethnic studies implemented across the Seattle school district,” Hagopian said in front of the rally and assembled media. “That effort turned out not to be hollow words.”
Last summer, the school board endorsed ethnic studies and voted to set up a task force with a $88,000 budget to work out details for a program. Implementing a program was identified by experts as one of the district’s biggest challenges in 2018, as CHS reported earlier this year.
Hagopian said Monday that Garfield has forged ahead.
“I’m proud of our school for not waiting until that resolution was passed and to actually say we want ethnic studies right here at Garfield High School,” Hagopian said. “And I’m very proud to be teaching one of the first ethnic studies programs in the Seattle Public system.”
The Seattle School Board last week approved a resolution supporting the Black Lives Matter at School effort and a February 5th through 9th “week of action” —
Historically, when Black people have fought for a more democratic society, the lives of all people have improved and, conversely, each time barriers to Black people’s potential have been erected, our whole society has suffered. This resolution makes the unequivocal declaration from the School Board that the lives of our black students matter, as well as the lives of all of our students of color. It also encourages participation district-wide in the Black Lives Matter At School Week from February 5-9. This week is being recognized by educators nationwide as an opportunity to promote racial justice and identity safety in classrooms.
At Monday’s rally beginning the week, Garfield High’s Black Student Union president Khabirah Weddington spoke to the nationwide impact of the effort. “It matters that everybody in the country is getting that same kind of treatment, that same kind of education, that same kind of mentorship that I am,” the 17-year-old junior said, “so they can be the leaders of tomorrow, the leaders of the year to come, the leaders of the future, the leaders of America.”