Montpelier, VT – A Vermont public school district that announced it will fly a Black Lives Matter flag in front of its high school in February for Black History Month has found itself the center of a nasty controversy.
The school district said it made the decision based on a proposal from the student-led Racial Justice Alliance. The group appeared before the school board Jan. 17 to pitch the idea, according to the Burlington Free Press.
The Times Argus reported that “Montpelier High School has been swept up in a media frenzy including hate speech and threatening messages” since the announcement.
Superintendent Brian Ricca released a statement asking critics to offer “constructive and peaceful dialogue, in the hopes of deepening our shared understanding of race and privilege in our education system and broader community,” The Washington Times reported.
“We have received a number of phone messages, voicemails and email,” Ricca told the Times Argus. “I have responded to the ones that seemed even reasonably open to conversation. I have not responded to any that are threatening in any manner. Any that I’ve had concerns about, as has Principal McRaith, have been sent to our [police] school resource officer.”
The school district put out a separate statement touting the decision.
“Vermont has a long history of being at the forefront of civil rights movements,” the school district said in the news release. “Our state was the first to abolish slavery in its constitution, and the first to enroll and graduate a black student, who subsequently served in the state legislature. The School Board’s decision to fly a Black Lives Matter flag builds on that legacy.”
The school district seems unaware that Black Lives Matter is not a civil rights movement.
Most people have their own personal beliefs about what Black Lives Matter means to them. They think that their personal definition for Black Lives Matter is what the organized BLM groups stand for; this is not the case.
Black Lives Matter is made up of political organizations with political goals that most people would disagree with, including disrupting the “nuclear family” structure (see Black Villages), taxpayer-funded reparations for black people (see Reparations), and the elimination of charter schools (see Invest-Divest.) If you are unfamiliar with the Movement 4 Black Lives website we linked to, that’s the coalition of over 50 Black Lives Matter organizations which is receiving $100 million in donations to push their political goals. This is the political message that the school district is promoting when they allow “Black Lives Matter” messaging.
The students who pushed the initiative said the Black Lives Matters flag was just a part of a system of changes they were hoping to implement throughout the school district. Those changes would include the school’s curriculum.
“And yet, we need to do more to raise our predominantly white community’s collective consciousness to better recognize white privilege and implicit bias,” the group said in a statement, according to the Burlington Free Press.
The superintendent told the Times Argus that he’s concerned about the outrage being expressed over the decision by many members of the community. He said the school board had asked him to compile the comments for review at their next meeting.
“My first and most important job as an educator, whether I’m a classroom teacher, department head, building principal or a superintendent, is to keep the students, faculty and staff safe,” Ricca said. “We are seeking to engage in this is in a thoughtful way; we’re encouraging dialogue. There are those that are not going to approach it in the same manner that we are hoping for.”
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that all of our students, faculty and staff remain in a safe and inclusive environment, even as we fly this flag in the month of February,” Ricca said.