Social-justice ‘teach in’ effort took over Germantown Friends School on Friday

Imani Ross, a senior at Germantown Friends School, is an advocate for social justice in her school and community.

When she and fellow classmates began observing the nation’s response to recent events regarding equality, they too felt called to action.

“I’ve wanted to do a diversity day since last year,” Ross said, “but the opportunity to do it this year was perfect.”

Early last week, Ross and fellow students brought their ideas to GFS faculty and administration. They were met with support and encouragement.

So, in five days, the students and faculty planned a full day of diversity education, awareness and conversation.

‘Teach-in’ details

In place of their routine classes, what they called a “teach-in” took place on Friday.

“An Extraordinary Day for Extraordinary Times” included a series of dialogue workshops, student-led presentations and a screening of “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequality.”

Keynote addresses were delivered by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, GFS alum and associate professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware and Michael O’Bryan, a humanitarian artist and youth-housing advocate.

“Today is a day to have conversations about how we begin to take action to ensure the human dignity of every person because, in fact, we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers,” GFS Head of School Dana Weeks said during her opening remarks.

“We are one community whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic or ideological differences may be,” Weeks continued. “And, it’s an honor to be in a school where we can spend a day having these conversations and thinking about how we act to promote peace.”

Candlelight vigil

Following the day’s events, a candlelight vigil was held at the entrance to the school’s campus. Also, a group of students and staff organized to attend the March on Washington on Saturday.

Ross, who hopes to study public relations at George Washington University and continue her diversity work through non-profit organizations next fall, said she was proud of students and staff.

“Our faculty supported us when we wanted something done and that’s what a school is supposed to do,” she said. “Did we end racism in America? No. But now, 400 students are a little more aware of how racism plays a role in everyone’s life big and small.”

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