Hillcrest schedules meetings with students to talk about Black History Month
By WVUA 23 Student News Reporter Emily Benito
Around 300 students walked out of Hillcrest High School in a peaceful protest last week after they said school leaders told them they could not include historical events from before the 1970 in an upcoming student-led Black history month program.
Tuscaloosa County School System Superintendent Keri Johnson said there was a miscommunication and the school system is not keeping students away from any time of history.
“To our knowledge, no one was ever instructed not to have a certain part of history in the Black history program. We want to celebrate all our students’ cultures and backgrounds. We are excited about the program. It’s student-created and student-led,” said Johnson.
On Monday, the NAACP held a news conference regarding the situation at Hillcrest High School. The president of the state’s NAACP chapter attended to show his support for the students.
“How can you in America talk about and have a Black History Month program where you can’t even talk about slavery and history. And despite what some of our legislators have said, this country was founded on slavery,” said Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton.
NAACP Tuscaloosa chapter President Lisa Young said this issue isn’t just about the program.
“While we are talking about the Black History Program, this is about our culture, about racial insensitivity that has been fostered by administrators not only at the school level but also at the board level,” said Young.
Jamiyah Brown is a student at Hillcrest who’s led the charge with local civil rights leaders over this issue, and she said students feel like the school is not addressing the problem.
“They’re not taking us into consideration, or trying to find a result that could help us fix the issues that we have,” said Brown.
Johnson said the school will host small group meetings to talk with the students and hear their concerns this week.
“We plan to meet with groups of students to find out what their concerns are. If they do have concerns, we need to address those because we want all our students to feel loved and valued,” Johnson said.
The student-run Black History Month program at Hillcrest High School is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m.