Education

MLK Day March for Education in North Kingstown takes on racial equity

“We just wanted to bring attention to and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and bring attention to the fact that now, more than ever, there’s a need for equity in eduction,” said Jennifer Lima, co-president of TANK. “It’s important that children everywhere are taught the importance and history of racial injustice in our country and how it still impacts today.
Photo for MLK Day March for Education in North Kingstown takes on racial equity

Published on January 19, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Over 50 people participated in a March for Education on Martin Luther King Day in North Kingstown. Organized by TANK (Towards an Anti-racist North Kingstown) the marchers braved some gusty winds but otherwise perfect weather as the overnight storm passed. The event was also a fundraiser that raised $600 to be split equally between TANK’s scholarship fund and the North Kingstown School District’s “Blessings in a Backpack” program. The march began and ended at Davisville Middle School.

“We just wanted to bring attention to and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and bring attention to the fact that now, more than ever, there’s a need for equity in education,” said Jennifer Lima, co-president of TANK. “It’s important that children everywhere are taught the importance and history of racial injustice in our country and how it still impacts today.

“In his day, Martin Luther King was considered a radical,” said Lima. “He wasn’t as passive as people think. Nonviolence does not mean passivity. His legacy has been co-opted to mean what people want it to mean. I think it’s important to remember who he truly was.”

Below is video from the march:

“Schools must fight for equality and equity,” said Stephanie Griffin, a former North Kingstown public schoolteacher, during a speech halfway through the march. “All students should enter the classroom on equal footing. Special educators, social workers, school psychologists, behavior specialists, occupational therapists and countless others are critical to creating equitable school culture. Striving towards this ideal is the only way to create a meritocracy.

“A well-funded public education is the right of all children, regardless of their intersectional identities. For-profit educational institutions and their fundamental motivation for capital are incongruous with helping children realize their full identity…”

Helena Couturier, a student at North Kingstown High School, spoke about the need to teach accurate history regarding Black and Native American history in schools.

The work of Dr. Martin Luther King, said Michelle Manning, a teacher from South Kingstown, is as relevant now as it was in the 1960s. She urged people to get involved and challenge inequity.

Jennifer Lima:

Elisa Hernandez addressed the crowd over a North Kingstown High School dress code that made her feel “disgusted and angry.” Students who protested the dress code by wearing crop tops were sent home “for showing nothing more than a strip of skin between their shirt and pants.”

Hernandez did an art project in opposition to the dress code. “Adult teachers, especially male ones, forming an opinion on what female or feminine presenting students is wearing is absolutely not okay,” said Hernandez.

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