Teacher Jonathan Rice’s seventh period Afrocentric American Literature class and a few other students skipped the regular school day on Thursday, Nov. 5, and received a different kind of learning experience at the Black Minds Matter rally in Sacramento.
Debra Watkins, founder, president, and executive director of the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE), invited CVHS to take part in the Black Minds Matter Day of Student Advocacy, and Assistant Principal Regina Irvin passed that invitation along to Rice and his students, who gladly accepted.
“The whole thing was just amazing; it was a great bonding experience for our whole class,” said junior Y’Maia Jackson.
After getting off the bus from CVHS, the Afrocentric class listened to speeches about social issues affecting ethnic minorities by advocates and politicians at the State Board of Education and Black Minds Matter rallies. Both rallies took more time than initially allotted, and though they were empowering and enlightening, students thought they could have been shorter, and welcomed their lunch break.
Having eaten, the rallies’ attendants were assigned to rooms at a nearby hotel convention center, where they engaged in activities designed to build knowledge, including a data equity walk, a high school breakout session, and information about the marginalization of black Americans in the public school system.
“Learning about African Americans in the school system was my favorite part because it was very informative,” said junior Zephan Wood.
Jackson agreed with Wood that activities in the convention center were the most influential of the day. “We learned how schools look at us, and to dig deeper into the bad data that exists for students of color or low-income, and foster kids. It really opened my eyes and changed the way I look at data and high school statistics in general, and also colleges and the future,” she said.
Though there are currently no plans for further Afrocentric class field trips, students who attended this one are hoping for another excursion as it was such a great event.
“This experience was especially valuable for my students because they were able to meet and get exposed to real advocates for social change. Hopefully, they were inspired to do the same,” Rice said, hoping the rallies will have a lasting impact.