A high school in Burlington, Vermont, has won the right to fly a Black Lives Matter flag on their campus, the Burlington Free Press reports.
The Burlington School Board voted unanimously in favor of raising a Black Lives Matter flag at Burlington High School. It will the second flag raised in a public school in the state. The first was erected 40 miles away at Montpelier High School on February 1.
About a dozen student members of Social Justice Union at Burlington High School collected over 450 signatures and drafted a resolution to get permission from school principal Tracy Racicot and Superintendent Yaw Obeng, but the issue eventually landed in front of the school board. Despite that obstacle, Racicot and Obeng supported their students’ efforts.
“Our youth are brave and certain in their beliefs. We stand beside all of our students as they choose to make a difference in the world," Racicot said.
Obeng agreed. “I'm in full support of the students and their drive to have this social justice conversation," he said.
The students were inspired to raise a flag after attending Montpelier High School’s flag raising.
“As we drove away from the school, the flag flew high and everyone I was with said that this will be BHS next week. We are hopeful," Eli Pine, a 17-year-old senior at Burlington, wrote in a statement after the event. "I thought that if this can be done in Montpelier, it can be done in Burlington."
The students also want to encourage more discussions about race and expressed their feelings about being people of color living in a progressive state like Vermont.
“Though Vermont is a progressive state, many black Vermonters express that living in Vermont is, in some ways, more difficult than living in the racist South,” said the resolution. “By being among the whitest states in the country, we have an obligation to further the well-being of our brothers and sisters of color so that their skin color is no longer a predictor of social, economic, academic and health outcomes.”
People of color make up 37 percent of Burlington High School’s student body, and 16 percent of those kids are black. Montepelier High has an even lower POC population, with 16 percent of their students being of color and 5 percent of them being black.
Students and school officials were overjoyed at the news.
Senior Eliza Abedi expressed her joy to WCAX, saying, “I'm in utter disbelief, me and my friends really did this. We finally did this and we are going to do this.”
"They represent the strength and success of the district," Fran Brock, president of the school’s teachers union said.
The flag will likely be raised on Monday, according to Obeng, and is expected to fly for the remainder of the school year. Students are currently planning a petition for the flag to remain raised next year.