We propose that the Black Lives Matter flag will be raised at Champlain Valley Union High School in honor of Black History Month. We affirm that Black Lives Matter is a peaceful and empowering grassroots movement, advocating for racial justice and collective liberation. By raising the flag, we hope to make CVU a more inclusive and equitable environment, committed to making all members feel welcome and appreciated.
The racist and anti-Semitic hate speech found at CVU this past month is a clear indication that our school has a deeper problem than just ignorance or lack of awareness regarding race. Our curriculum and culture do not educate or advocate for racial equity nearly enough. Raising the Black Lives Matter flag, as a united school community, is a positive step our district can take to cause meaningful change and start necessary conversations. Raising the flag is a public declaration that, yes, the lives of our black students and community members of color do matter and should be valued as such.
In addition to the educational work the Racial Alliance Committee has done this year, we will be holding a school-wide assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 20, educating the student body on Black History Month and Black Lives Matter. The following day, advisories will discuss new learning from the assembly. Before the end of March, we propose to raise the Black Lives Matter flag on the flagpole outside of CVU during a brief ceremony. In following years, the flag will be raised every Feb. 1, and will fly for the rest of each school year. There will be no uncovered expense to the district at large.
CVU’s core principles are to respect ourselves, respect each other, and respect the place. That narrative would be incomplete without showing due respect and recognition to students of color, as diversity only strengthens our community. It is the job of CVU, and not just the Racial Alliance Committee, to start discussions, raise awareness, and lead by example in dismantling hate and implicit bias. Now, more than ever, we must rise up from unfortunate events to tackle issues head on, with not only words, but with actions. This is why we should raise the flag.
We thank the student leaders from Montpelier, Burlington, and South Burlington High School for paving the way in this brave endeavor.
We thank you for your time and consideration regarding our proposal.
CVU’s Racial Alliance Committee Co-Leaders:
Katelyn Wong, Paige Thibault, Akuch Dau, and Prince Yodishembo
Other Contributors: Madeleine Serafini, Sohaila Shiffert, Elyse Martin-Smith, Kali Adams, Carolina Sicotte, Courtney McDermott, and Christel Tonoki
(Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the Champlain Valley School Board)