A Vermont high school is celebrating Black History Month by flying the Black Lives Matter flag under the American flag. This move will make Montpelier High School the first high school in the United States to raise the Black Lives Matter flag.
Student Joelyn Mensah, who founded the student group Racial Justice Alliance, said:
People choose their flags because they want to [be] represented and they want to be seen. We students do not feel like we are represented or seen in our education and we are here to raise the flag because we want to be seen and we will demand to be represented in our education.
Principal Mike McRaith echoed the message:
We are committed to improvement and this dialogue and to work for equity and racial justice in our school system. We can and we must improve our educational system to be more culturally competent and ever more inclusive to the historically marginalized and oppressed.
To underscore that Black Lives Matter is not simply anti-police, McRaith invited the local police department to the ceremony.
I, members of my Judiciary Committee, legislators, community members, leaders, law enforcement came out to stand with & support the #Montpelier High School— Maxine Grad (@RepMaxineGrad) February 1, 2018
Racial Justice Alliance as they raised the #BlackLivesMatter flag in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth#VT #vtpoli pic.twitter.com/ZQ5oTIkfkY
The school and the students received a lot of support from online communities:
Of course, there were also people who missed the point and inserted "whiteness" into the event:
So, let's ask this question— Bob Glenn (@bobglenn88) February 2, 2018
What if today we hung a flag that says "White Lives Matter "??? I can hear the racist name calling already ---HYPOCRITES
But advocates quickly shut down detractors:
Wow. The purpose of Black Lives Matter is to show the world that Black lives matter just as much as anyone else. If you though it meant that our lives matter MORE, you haven't done your research. So let's see if you agree with this #BlackLivesMatterJustAsMuchAsAnyoneElse— CeeGramz (@ceegramz) February 2, 2018
The amount of “can we fly an it’s ok to be white flag” is annoying, not everything is about you, and don’t start with tht all lives matter bullshit ... because all lives won’t matter until the countless black lives are included in tht “all”— Ariana Rivera ♋️🦀 (@Ari_robledo33) February 2, 2018