Charlottesville High School Students Walked Out To Demand Protection After Being Targeted By Racially Motivated Threat
The students demonstrated a walkout to attain civility among its racially-charged environment that's plagued the city since its 2017 Unite the Right rally.
Black students at a high school in Charlottesville, Virginia, held a walkout on Monday following racially motivated threats against the students last week.
Teen Vogue reports Charlottesville High School (CHS) was shut down on March 21 and March 22 following violent threats made to its Black student body. According to The Daily Progress, the administration received a tip regarding an anonymous message posted on 4chan warning its white students to stay home, stating that an “ethnic cleansing in the form of a shooting" would occur for all remaining students of color. The post was reportedly full of racial epithets targeted toward the school's Black students.
From the day of the initial threat and throughout the weekend, CHS senior Zyahna Bryant, president and founder of the school's Black Student Union, organized the school's walkout.
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“In the wake of the recent school closings due to threats of racial violence that targeted Black and Brown students, the students of Charlottesville High School are calling on the Charlottesville City Schools to address racism in all its forms,” the students wrote in a press release.
The #RacialJusticeWalkout was created not only to show solidarity among its Black student body but also to demand the administration do more to combat the ongoing racially charged environment.
The Black Student Union called for cultural reform and an increase in strategized protection, including a lock-and-buzzer system and racial-bias training for school resource officers. The students also demanded a more diverse curriculum in the Charlottesville City School District to educate students on African-American history and to be taught by an increased presence of Black teachers.
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It is estimated that nearly 200 people, including students and supporters, joined the group to march and protest through McIntire Park, HuffPost reported.
Bryant was scheduled to make a keynote speech at Wake Forest University for her successful efforts to have a Robert E. Lee statue removed -- an action The New York Times reported was the initiating event for the Unite the Right rally -- when she heard news of the threat at her school.
The town has been inundated with controversy related to racism following the deadly rally when white supremacists and neo-Nazis took to the streets chanting, "You will not replace us."
The August 2017 rally rocked the nation and confirmed growing fears about America's racial climate following President Trump's win.
“There’s this big illusion of progress that I think Charlottesville has and that a lot of school districts and a lot of institutions around the country have,” she continued. “We often want to think about our progress as being something chronological or in a line, but it’s not at times. We still seem to be moving in circles.”
Bryant told reporters that it wasn't the first time the school received racially motivated threats and stated the town has a long history of discrimination, noting two of her great uncles who were among the first Black students to attend a desegregated Charlottesville school in 1959.
Police arrested an unidentified 17-year-old on Friday related to the incident, charging him with a felony threat and one count of misdemeanor harassment, Blavity reported. A second teen was arrested the same day for a separate threat made online against nearby Albemarle High School.
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