A woman wearing a shirt with “Black Lives Matter” on Aug. 9, 2015, at the Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Mo., during a memorial service for Michael Brown Jr.MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Teachers in the Seattle Public Schools district have planned a Black Lives Matter event next week to coincide with an effort by the school district to close the gap of opportunity between students of different races.
KIRO 7 reports that about 1,000 teachers have ordered Black Lives Matter T-shirts that will be worn Oct. 19 during an event called Black Lives Matter in the Seattle Public Schools, a move that is endorsed by Seattle Education Association, the labor organization that represents more than 5,500 educators.
Teachers at Seattle’s John Muir Elementary School took part in a similar event Sept. 16, wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and hosting Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative, during which black men from the community welcomed kids to school. KIRO 7 reports that the event was almost canceled after the school received threats of violence, but the school staff decided to have the event anyway.
Jesse Hagopian, a teacher at Seattle’s Garfield High School, told KIRO 7 that the threat against John Muir was made by a white supremacist and that Seattle teachers responded by taking the event districtwide.
“I’m going to be promoting the concept that black lives matter and that my black students’ lives matter in my classroom, in the school district,” Hagopian said. “But I want my students to grapple with the issues that the Black Lives Matter movement has raised. And I want them to be able to understand the criticisms of the movement. … I want them to be able to come up with their own decision about what this movement really means.”
KIRO 7 asked Hagopian how he would respond to those who say, “All lives matter.”
“If all lives matter, then black lives would matter,” Hagopian said.
The Seattle Public Schools district respects the teachers’ right to express themselves. A district spokesperson told KIRO 7 that the T-shirts are a good visual, and they hope that the message inspires people to do the work of eliminating opportunity gaps, an effort the district itself is focused on. A campaign highlighting the district’s efforts is also planned for next week.
In addition to the district, the Seattle Parent Teacher Student Association has come out in support of the educators.
The event Oct. 19 will culminate in a rally featuring parents, students, activists and Grammy Award-winning artist Kimya Dawson in the evening.
Read more at KIRO 7.