I can’t imagine how hard it must be for Black students trying to navigate today’s world. If they’re not worrying about getting shot up at school, then they’re worrying about a cop shooting them on the way home. Considering all that Minneapolis has gone through with regards to police violence over the last 11 months, it should come as no surprise that high school students across Minnesota staged a walkout on Monday.
According to WCCO, the walkout was spurred after Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer little over a week ago. Student organizers managed to coordinate the walkout within a matter of days by using social media. Malika Freeman, a junior at Osseo Senior High, was one of the many students across Minnesota to participate. “I hope there will be change. I hope that love will be spread, solidarity, justice for everyone who has lost their life,” Freeman told WCCO.
“The last week has been a really emotional week and I have to give thanks our teacher, Ms. Stew. She’s been really helpful with us, giving us safe spaces to, you know, be able to vent, to be able to cope with everything,” she added.
NPR reports that students across the state held signs and marched together to the district office in hopes their voices would be heard.
By the time Monday had rolled around, students in dozens of Minnesota schools—from Minneapolis and St. Louis Park to Roseville, Osseo, St. Peter, Sartell and St. Cloud—had signed on to lead marches and rallies to protest racism. They organized on social media.
In Oakdale, with a late April snow blowing from the sky, Williams led a column of hundreds of students—more than a third of the school’s in-person student body—out the front entrance and around the football field.
At the same time—just after 1 p.m.—an hour away in central Minnesota, dozens of students rallied around the flagpole at Becker High School, braving blustery winds as they carried signs, chanted and listened to speeches.
Junior Nick Roehl, who helped organize the walkout, said he thought the event was important for the Becker High School community. Recent incidents of name-calling and harassment of LGBTQ students and students of color, he said, made the march all the more timely.
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“The walkout’s happening because we’ve already asked, we’ve already done the nice things, like sitting down and talking and being told, ‘We see you, we hear you.’ But sometimes taking it into your own hands is the only way we’ll see justice,” 17-year-old Semhar Solomon told NPR.
She’s not wrong. Ultimately, it’s on us to build the world we want, as it’s become quite clear those with power have no interest in fixing what’s broken. While the Kyle Rittenhouses of the world have shown that, no, racism isn’t going to just magically die when the current youth come of age, it is inspiring to see students take a stand against injustice. I know what I was doing when I was their age, and it wasn’t nearly as heroic.