When the Matter of Black Lives is Moved

A high school yearbook allows students to revisit and reflect on significant events during the school year. It is a sentimental keepsake that is very important and should not be taken for granted.

Just ask Vanessa Mewborn and Ariana Coleman, two African American female high schoolers at Buckingham Charter School (Vacaville, California).

During the fall 2016 semester, the two yearbook staff members surveyed students and teachers about their thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. The guiding question for all inquiries was “How do you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement?”

The girls compiled their findings into the yearbook article “Celebrating being American: Clarity on Black Lives Matter”

The article also consisted of picture of Mewborn, Coleman and two other female students with their fists in the black power position.

In response to the article, the school’s principal conducted a little “Black Lives Matter Movement” of his own. He moved all mentions of the term Black Lives Matter out of the article.

His next move was to change the article title to “We are Buckingham”. He also revised the original leading question to read: “How do you feel about the current world climate that has caused cultural divisions?” As for the matter of the black power photo-that was moved to oblivion, too.

The girls shared their concerns with the North California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). After the district’s superintendent received a demand letter from ACLU, the school district allowed the original article and picture to be published in the yearbook.

In other words, Black Lives Matter was moved back to the inclusion that should reflect diversity in America and diversity in schools.

Truth be told, this victory was about more than a principal and students being on the same page about content in a yearbook.

This was a matter of two black lives being moved to fight for justice.

And that is a matter worth denoting in a variety of venues, including the 2016-2017 yearbook for Buckingham Charter School.

1 reply
  1. Tonya
    Tonya says:

    High school journalism classes are best for students to generate dialogue on this and many issues. Puzzles me why many schools are abolishing these programs.


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