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WUWM's Teran Powell reports on race and ethnicity in southeastern Wisconsin.

Milwaukee High School Students Celebrate Black Lives Matter Week Of Action

Teran Powell
Students, educators, and Black Panther Party members pose with a Black Lives Matter banner in front of North Division High School.

Schools across the country are participating in the second annual national Black Lives Matter at School Week. It includes events and lesson plans centered around affirming the lives of black students. And Milwaukee Public Schools has joined in, with its own Black Lives Matter Week of Action.

On a chilly Wednesday morning, dozens of students at North Division High School led a Black Lives Matter rally. It was organized by the campus chapter of the group Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) — a youth of color led organization.

Though some were wearing winter coats and hoodies, students dressed in all black in solidarity with those who have lost their lives to radical, police and gun violence.

Credit Teran Powell
Students march down Center Street in Milwaukee during a Black Lives Matter Week of Action rally.

The students made sure the neighborhood heard their voices. Students could be heard chanting, “Whose streets? Our Streets! Say it loud, say it clear, black lives matter here!”

Passing cars honked in support of the students as they marched through the neighborhood.

According to Black Lives Matter at School, the movement started in Seattle, Wash., in 2016 with teachers giving lessons that brought attention to black history and inequalities black people face.

Now, school districts across the country are hosting events.

The students at North Division chose to focus their rally on police brutality, racism, and violence within the black community. Jashanti Johnson, a sophomore, made that clear in a speech she gave.

“The police brutality issue is very disturbing because there are a lot of racist police and they really don’t care too much about black lives. Not all police are the same, but some shouldn’t be in the law industry,” she said.

Credit Teran Powell
Jashanti Johnson (far left) and Princess Holmes (center) lead the students in the rally.

Another point she made, addressing violence within the black community, was that when a black person kills another black person it doesn’t always result in the same level of concern as when an officer kills a black person. That needs to change, she says.

“What I’m saying is that we need to come together as a black community and continue to value our lives and demand that others value black lives as well," Johnson said.

Another student, Princess Holmes, hopes people pay attention to concerns students are raising during the Black Lives Matter at School week.

“We want to make a change basically. We want things to get better instead of how they are now. We don’t want to be treated differently. We feel like we should all be treated the same way because we all pump the same blood,” Holmes said.

Members of the original Black Panther Party of Milwaukee joined students during the rally. The Black General King Rick shared words of encouragement before leading the students in another chant saying, “Black power!”

Credit Teran Powell
Black General King Rick.

“I am so proud to see so many students from North Division out here showing some serious community activism. The original Black Panthers of Milwaukee want you to know we got your back,” he said.

He left students with: “The young always inherit the revolution. You can always kill the revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution. Power to the people.”

Other Black Lives Matter at School events this week include an MTEA Black Caucus Awards and Soup Dinner Thursday night, and an MTEA Black Caucus Black Lives Matter Social.

Support for Race & Ethnicity reporting is provided by the Dohmen Company.

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Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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