Civil rights leaders speak with students after potential Black history program incident
By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Asher Redd
The NAACP spent Saturday speaking with students who attend Hillcrest High School after they said they believe school administrators are censoring a student-led Black history program during Black History Month.
Hillcrest students said they were told by administrators that their program could not address Black history events that happened before 1970.
Last week, WVUA 23 received the following statement from Hillcrest High School addressing the matter:
“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 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.”
But students say that statement isn’t accurate, and that’s why area church leaders and the NAACP hosted the event. Because students’ voices should be heard.
“We need to talk to the administration because as we’re listening to these children, their stories are lining up,” said Greater Faith Church Paster David E. Evans Sr. Greather Faith Church hosted the discussion.
During a recent meeting with school administrators, multiple students began crying and left the room.
“As we heard the young people talking, some of them became very emotional,” Evans said. “You could tell that they had been traumatized throughout their high school career at Hillcrest. This is what happens when you have a lack of diversity in your decision-making process.”
At the meeting Saturday, Hillcrest students spoke at length with Tuscaloosa civil rights leaders about their experiences at the school.
“Apparently, this has been going on for some years,” Evans said.
Students and their parents said they’ve struggled when attempting meetings with administration. Some families said they were left waiting for hours in administrators’ offices.
“I feel like the administration at the Tuscaloosa County School Board has turned a blind eye to some of these concerns,” said NAACP Tuscaloosa Chapter President Lisa Young.
A group of community leaders planned a visit to Hillcrest High School Monday morning.
“This is not a stance whether this is Black against white,” Evans said. “It’s not a racial issue. It’s a cultural issue that is wrong.”
Young said she is encouraging these students to respectfully and peacefully come to a resolution with the school.
“There is a better way to do it and a right way to do it,” said SCLC Tuscaloosa President James Williams. “And I believe if we work together, surely it will get done. It doesn’t matter race or color.”
Community leaders said they plan to work with administrators so students aren’t distracted from learning.
“We’re looking for answers,” Evans said. “We’re going to the administration on Monday, and if we can’t get the answers from the principal and get this thing moving forward, then we’re heading to the Board of Education next.”