High school’s decision to fly Black Lives Matter flag during Black History Month sparks controversy

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MONTPELIER, VT (WPTZ/WCMH) – Vermont’s Montpelier High School has announced it will fly a Black Lives Matter flag during Black History Month.

Superintendent Brian Ricca said the decision was made after students worked on the idea for more than a year.

The students said it was important to fly the flag to demonstrate the school’s fight for equitable education for black students and to challenge the status quo.

The board voted unanimously to support the students’ request.

“In taking this step, the board and administration recognize student leadership and their desire for support,” Ricca said. “This is integral to other meaningful and purposeful work around equity that is happening in Montpelier Public Schools. This is not a singular event.”

“I just think it’s a bad example for the Montpelier School Board to establish this precedent,” state Rep. Thomas Terenzini said.

Terenzini denounced the decision, calling Black Lives Matter a national anti-police organization.

“I don’t see myself as being a bigot or prejudiced, but I just don’t think that Black Lives Matter is a national organization to look up,” he told WPTZ.

The board members said that they recognize not everyone in the community will agree with the decision, but they hope everyone can come together in a constructive conversation.

“We welcome those voices into a constructive and peaceful dialogue, in the hopes of deepening our shared understanding of race and privilege in our education system and broader community,” Ricca said.

The move has the support of the Vermont teachers’ union.

“In flying the Black Lives Matter flag, Montpelier High School is officially saying that bias exists. I am encouraged by this step, and am glad to see that school officials are actively addressing with teachers, students, and staff the experiences of students of color who uniquely bear the brunt of or nation’s systemic racism,” said Vermont teachers’ union president Martha Allen. “I want to congratulate the hard work by the students of the Racial Justice Alliance, who put it exactly right when they said, ‘We will raise the flag with love in our hearts and voices.’”Read more

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