TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Over 200 students at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa County participated in a walkout protest Wednesday following controversy involving a Black History Month program.
Students claim that school administration told them their student-run Black History Month program could not reference anything that happened before the 1970s, including slavery, the Black Panthers or the civil rights movement.
Students say they decided to have the walk out in order to have their voices heard.
“I feel like it’s important to talk about that because I feel like in 2023, a lot of our youth don’t know their culture,” student Jamiyah Brown said. “A lot of our youth don’t know how empowerment has brought us this far. This is important to educate our youth on how we came from somewhere to now.”
Lisa Young, president of the Tuscaloosa branch of the NAACP, said she and others were contacted about one incident and later held a forum on the matter, where they were told the culture at the school was not conducive to education.
“It was more intimidation and the students were concerned they were visibly shaking. I would say some were traumatized,” Young said. “We asked them what they wanted to do and we wanted the students to come up with a plan and we support them.”
Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Keri C. Johnson released the following statement after the walkout:
“The Tuscaloosa County School System supports our students’ right to peacefully demonstrate. 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.”