TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBMA) — More than 200 students walked out of class Wednesday at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa. The protest happened in response to students saying they were told by school leaders to omit certain events from a student-led Black History Month program scheduled for Feb. 22.
Students said they were told to leave out some major historical moments including slavery and the civil rights movement.
“We were told me we couldn’t talk about slavery and civil rights because one of our administrators felt uncomfortable,” said Black History Month Program board member J'Niyah Suttles.
UPDATE: School system looking into allegations, set to begin focus groups after student walkout
Suttles is a senior at Hillcrest High School and participated in the walkout. She said the the direction from a school administrator left her hurt.
"My protector from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., for you to tell me I can’t talk about something that is dealing with my culture is very disturbing, it’s very confusing," Suttles explained.
Fellow Hillcrest senior Jada Holt expressed the same emotions towards the direction.
Why am I being censored about my culture something that is rooted in me? Why can’t I talk about it? History is history and it's already been made, and it can't be erased.
SEE ALSO: Student found with gun on Brookwood High School campus
SEE ALSO: Tuscaloosa officer exchanges gunfire with domestic violence suspect
Senior Jamiyah Brown organized the walkout. She is a choreographer for the Black History Month Program. The demonstration lasted about an hour.
"Without our history we are nothing, without teaching our youth where we come from, how can we move forward?" questioned Brown.
Tuscaloosa County Superintendent Dr. Keri Johnson released a statement on the walkout.
The Tuscaloosa County School System supports our students’ right to peacefully demonstrate. A number of our Hillcrest High students have concerns about the culture within their school. We care deeply about our students, and it is important that their concerns are heard. We are putting together a plan to make sure our students feel heard, so that we know the right steps to put in place to ensure all students know that they are valued.
The President of the Tuscaloosa Branch of the NAACP, Lisa Young said the alleged direction was a disgrace.
"I don’t know how you can talk about black history in this country without talking about slavery or the civil rights movement," said Young.
She and other community leaders held a forum over the weekend for nearly 30 students and their parents. She said she has requested a meeting with the superintendent of Tuscaloosa County Schools and has yet to be given a date they can meet.
"Angry, I'm angry and part of me feels like we failed our students. We want to see what we can do to assist them, and make their school a safe place," Young said.