Protesters have put up a huge sign that reads “Black Education Matters,” and pitched tents in front of the U.S. Department of Education building in Southwest D.C. to demand equity in education.
Protesters put up a huge sign that reads “Black Education Matters” and pitched tents in front of the U.S. Department of Education building in Southwest D.C. to demand equity in education.
The group — made up largely of students from local universities — began the demonstration on Monday, and plans to occupy the sidewalk outside the building on Maryland Avenue SW until their demands are met.
“A lot of people get it mistaken and think that Black Lives Matter just simply means to stop killing the Black community when that’s the minimum that people can do,” said Howard University junior Aniyah Vines, the protest’s main organizer. “It means to invest in Black people. It means Black education matters, Black housing matters, Black health care matters.”
Vines, 20, is the founder of The Live Movement, whose motto is “We must LIVE for those who have died.” It was formed after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The peaceful protesters’ list of demands includes forming a national task force to eliminate systemic racism in education and incorporating more Black history into the public school curriculum.
“Right now, we see whitewashed pages in public schools and history that’s omitted. So imagine having curriculum with all of that history … and it’s a requirement,” Vines said. “So you don’t choose. Just like how you don’t choose to learn about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, you don’t choose to learn about W. E. B. Du Bois and Fred Hampton and John Lewis.”
The group is also demanding a meeting with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“If you are here to … serve the students of the United States, then we’re right here. And we’re telling you that we’re not being served adequately,” Vines said.
Anyone is invited to join the protest. The group has been receiving large amounts of donated food, and different events are planned at the site each day, ranging from discussions and town hall meetings to movie nights and talent shows.
“We’re just causing some good trouble and occupying this space, making it uncomfortable so that they can know we are serious as can be,” Vines said. “We’re college students — we don’t get paid for this. We’re out here taking classes and maintaining our daily lives, but we’re sacrificing the comfort of our beds and the convenience of the bathrooms.”
Read all the demands online.
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