Teachers showed support for black lives today outside the federal courthouse in Eugene. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, this is the fifteenth straight day of events calling for justice reform and black empowerment.
At least 500 people stood in the rain, to support students of color and diversifying school courses. Many talked amongst themselves about whether or not to continue having police present on school campuses, or on increased funding for mental health counseling.
Bobbie Willis, a journalism teacher at South Eugene High, began the event by thanking her colleagues.
“It says something that you all would spend this day here," said Willis. "It says what I know in my heart is true about the most skilled educators out there, that the heart of teaching resides in the openness to keep learning. And to learn, we must first be still.”
After some speeches, attendees marched to the 4J District building. Many dressed in red to support teachers, or black to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Homogeneity and History
At today's event, teachers also acknowledged the sparse numbers of blacks in the Eugene area.
Churchill High teacher Jennifer Scurlock says between this and Oregon’s racist history, many families are hesitant to move or stay here.
“We hope by intervening through education as an educator voice, that we can push against that and say ‘No no no," she told KLCC.
"We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that you and your family and your children and your children’s children, feel safe in our community.’ That’s why we’re here.”
On Representation of Educators of Color
Kevin Summerfield, another Churchill educator, says it’s also important to hire teachers of color, to challenge common perceptions of African-Americans. He told the crowd about his earliest interactions with students.
“They got to not just see somebody who’s on TV, not no rapper, not no gangster, not no thug," Summerfield said to the crowd.
"They got to see somebody important who is spending his time to help educate them on what it’s like to be in the skin that I’m in.”
Census data shows that African-Americans make up 3 percent of Eugene’s population.
WEB EXTRA: Watch Educators March launch from Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse towards 4J District Building in Eugene.
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