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NAACP: Tuscaloosa County schools need more diversity


As Black History Month draws to a close, the head of the Tuscaloosa County chapter of the National Association of Advancement of Colored People says one solution moving forward might be more diversity among the staff in the County’s school district.

“When you have a school that is compiled of fifty percent of people of color, and you have no color in the administration at that school, and you have an individual that is uncomfortable with their history, with those students history, perhaps they should not be at that school,” said Lisa Young, president of the Tuscaloosa branch of NAACP.

Young is referring to an incident in early February, where students at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa walked out in protest of an alleged administration request to exclude information during their Black History Month program.

She said it is important for students to feel there are people in the administration who understand the importance of their heritage, their culture and the struggles people of color face.

“We are just hoping that we can give them diversity and remove any individuals that are uncomfortable with students of color expressing their history,” said Young.

Students said they were asked to exclude anything before the 1970s, including topics such as slavery and the Civil Rights movement.

Young said, in response to the walkout, the school allowed students to include “anything they wanted” in the program. However, Young explained the school’s opposition to certain information affected the preparation leading the event.

“The students feel like with all the controversy that there was going they did not get to put on the show that they wanted to,” said Young. “However, they did their best given the circumstances in which they had to work on.”

After the early February occurrence, the superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County School System, Doctor Keri Johnson said they were addressing the concerns brought up by the students.

"We are putting together a plan to make sure our Hillcrest High students have an opportunity to express their concerns openly and honestly. Listening to them will let us know the right steps to take to ensure all students know they are valued," Johnson told Tuscaloosa Magazine.

However, Young of the local NAACP believes that weeks after the incident, changes still need to made. Despite the students’ resilience in putting their Black History Month Program, Young encourages the administration at Hillcrest High School to do some reflection. Over a 1,000 people were present for the school’s Black History program. Other students, parents, and community members attended to support the event.

Students said they were happy that, after hardships and hours of practice lost, they could display African culture, slavery and other occurrences from 1970s to 1990s that shaped African American culture.

Valentina Mora is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is an international student from Colombia at The University of Alabama. She is majoring in Communicative Disorders and Foreign Languages and Literature. She is part of the Blount Scholars Program and is also pursuing a minor in Music. Although she is not studying to become a journalist, Valentina enjoys reporting, interviewing and writing stories.
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