"People choose their flags because they want to be represented and they want to be seen," student Joelyn Mensah said.
“We students do not feel like we are represented or seen in our education and we are here to raise the flag because we want to be seen and we will demand to be represented in our education.”
Mensah founded Racial Justice Alliance, a student group that proposed the idea of raising the Black Lives Matter flag to the school board.
"In a lot of ways, our education has been robbed from us," said Hazen Union High School senior Zymora Davinchi.
“We don’t have equal access to education. We don’t have equal resources because we don’t grow up learning anything about ourselves.”
These are exactly the issues that the Black Lives Matter seeks to address and eliminate.
Speaking about the students' initiative to raise the flag, state representative Kevin Christie said, "We all, as Vermonters, should be proud of what we are doing in our schools when we can have our youth be this responsible."
This isn’t the only step the school will be taking to celebrate Black History Month. They’ve planned a series of events that will “call attention to racism and ensure that black students are getting an equitable education.”
In a school like Montpelier High, where less than 5 percent of the students are black, it is of utmost importance that kids are educated about the ongoing systemic ways in which black people in this country are oppressed.
The school’s principal, Mike McRaith, said, “We are committed to improvement and this dialogue and to work for equity and racial justice in our school system. We can and we must improve our educational system to be more culturally competent and ever more inclusive to the historically marginalized and oppressed.”
This school deserves a round of applause.
McRaith said that the school has been getting some backlash, specifically from people who believe the Black Lives Matter movement is anti-police.
But, McRaith said, the decision to fly the flag “is not anti-police. It is anti-bias.”