Black Student Voices: Reflecting on Race and Racism in Schools

Amid a national reckoning on race sparked by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people, thousands of high school students joined demonstrations across the country against police abuse. Some are now leading campaigns to force their school districts to create anti-racist curricula.

Against that backdrop, Education Week spoke with 10 Black high school students from across the country about how they think issues of race and racism should be handled in school.

In the first two videos of this series, students tell educators what they need from their schools to feel safe and supported, and how they’ve experienced classroom discussions about race. Subsequent videos will focus on students’ views on the importance of having Black teachers, and the role of school police.

Black Student Voices: What We Need From Our Schools

In the first video of this series, Black high school students share what they need from educators to improve their school experience. Students, they say, need a seat at the table so they can identify school policies that lead to inequities and advocate for things like counseling supports and representation within curricula.

Black Student Voices: Classroom Discussions on Race

In this video, Black high school students talk about their experiences discussing race in the classroom.

Classroom Discussions on Race: Hear What 5 Black Students Say They Need

In alphabetical order, the students featured in the videos are:
Jaden Adeyemi, a senior at Highland High School in Albuquerque, N.M.; Helena Almaw, a senior at DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School in Denver; William Bell, a recent graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.; Malik Coleman, a recent graduate of Fairfield Central High School in Winnsboro, S.C.; McKenzie Curry, a recent graduate of Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio; Onome Grell, a senior at John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, Mass.; Zoë Jenkins, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Ky; Davion Pilgrim, a junior at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif; Zion Sanders, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami; and Rena Mateja Walker Burr, a junior at Cleveland High School in Seattle.

Video edited by: Bridget Fetsko
Text: Madeline Will, Catherine Gewertz, Sarah Schwartz

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