EVERY CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THIS COUNTRY WAS STARTED BY YOUNG PEOPLE.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!!!
STUDENTS AT THE EXCLUSIVE MIDDLESEX PRIVATE SCHOOL WALK OUT OF CLASSES IN PROTEST OVER THE CANCELLATION OF NIKOLE HANNAH JONES TALK.
Middlesex Private School's decision to disinvite New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones culminated Friday with hundreds of students walking out of classes in protest.
The students left their classrooms shortly after 1 p.m. and gathered at Eliot Hall on the Concord campus, where printouts of tweets criticizing school leaders for disinviting Hannah-Jones were displayed on the doors. The demonstration was designed to show the students’ “disappointment in our leadership,” an organizer said.
“This decision was made by the leader and not by our school, and our school represents something totally different than the decisions of our leader,” said AliJah Clark, a 17-year-old junior.
The school has been in the spotlight since Monday when Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the creator of The 1619 Project, revealed on Twitter that the school had cancelled plans for her to speak on campus next February for Black History Month. The 1619 Project re-examined US history through the lens of slavery’s legacy, and immediately became a target of the political right which sought to discredit the publication and Hannah-Jones.
Speaking to the Globe on Tuesday, she said schools face “intense pressure not to invite speakers that are considered to be focusing too much on race and racism and the Black experience in American history.”
David Beare, Middlesex’s head of school, hinted at that pressure on Tuesday in a statement about the rescinded invitation.
“While we are confident that her insights would have been valued by our students, we were concerned that individuals from outside our community might inadvertently distract from the insights and perspective that she intended to share,” he said.
Since then, officials at the private school have called the decision to disinvite Hannah-Jones “profoundly wrong,” and Beare has met with students twice, including an emotional session on Thursday, students said. After Thursday’s meeting, students said they met privately with faculty members to discuss plans to seek “accountability, apologies, and transparency,” and stage demonstrations until their goals are achieved.
Nearly 100 faculty and staff members also wrote an open letter to the school’s trustees, saying they opposed the rescinded invitation. They called on trustees to have Beare “formally apologize to Ms. Hannah-Jones, as well as to the school, which he deprived of an exceptional moment of learning.”
“We also ask the Board to take action, in partnership with the faculty and staff, to rebuild our trust and to regain the community’s confidence in Middlesex’s commitment to the anti-racism work that is so vital to the growth and future of our school,” they wrote.
On Friday, Onyeraluobu Chibuogwu, a senior, said students have been striving to implement anti-racist initiatives at the school and believed school leaders’ encouragement had been “performative” in light of the Hannah-Jones decision.
Picture-AliJah Clark, left, and Onyeraluobu Chibuogwu, students at Middlesex School, protested the school's decision to disinvite Nikole Hannah-Jones from speaking at the school on Friday.)
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.