By Melissa Noel ·
Students from an Alabama high school walked out of class after school officials ordered them to omit certain relevant events from an upcoming Black History Month program.
Students at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa told WBMA-TV they were “ordered to leave out major historical moments, including slavery and the civil rights movement,” from the school program scheduled for Feb. 22
“We were told we couldn’t talk about slavery and civil rights because one of our administrators felt uncomfortable,” Black History Month Program board member J’Niyah Suttle told WBMA.
Suttle, a senior at Hillcrest High, expressed that the direction given by a school administrator was very concerning.
“For you to tell me I can’t talk about something that is dealing with my culture is very disturbing, it’s very confusing,” Suttles said.
Another Hillcrest senior, Jada Holt, expressed similar sentiments.
“Why am I being censored about my culture, something that is rooted in me? Why can’t I talk about it? History is history and it’s already been made, and it can’t be erased,” she said.
Senior Jamiyah Brown, who helped put the program together, organized the walkout, which lasted about an hour. “Without our history we are nothing. Without teaching our youth where we come from, how can we move forward?” Brown said.
Superintendent of Tuscaloosa County, Dr. Keri Johnson, refuted claims that an administrator told the students to omit historical details.
“It is not true that faculty or staff told students that slavery or the civil rights movement could not be part of the program,” Johnson said in a statement according to WBMA-TV. “When several community members heard this and contacted Hillcrest High administration out of concern, the administration explained to them that this was false information that was circulating.”
Johnson added that the school system supports the students’ right to demonstrate peacefully.
“A number of our Hillcrest High students have concerns about the culture within their school. We care deeply about our students, and it is important that their concerns are heard. We are putting together a plan to make sure our students feel heard so that we know the right steps to put in place to ensure all students know that they are valued,” she said.
The president of the Tuscaloosa Branch of the NAACP, Lisa Young, called the alleged instructions given to students a disgrace.
“I don’t know how you can talk about Black history in this country without talking about slavery or the civil rights movement,” Young said.
She said she has asked to meet with Johnson but has yet to be given a date.
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