Social activism at RHS

Feature Photo Provided By: Fox8 News’ Chet Strange– The Ku Klux Klan protests on July 8, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK is protesting the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, and calling for the protection of Southern Confederate monuments. 

By: Alexis Oliver, Reporter

On August 11th, dozens of marchers flooded the streets where the University of Virginia is located; they were armed with torches and holding up signs as they shouted: “white lives matter,” and “blood and soil.” These protestors were voicing their opinions about the mayor of Charlottesville issuing a removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. For almost three weeks now, Charlottesville, Virginia, a college town of about forty-six thousand people, has been a major hotspot for blatant racism. Here is the full breakdown of what happened on the day a white supremacist rally turned violent:

 

  • The mayor of Charlottesville issued a removal of the Confederate statue.
  • In response to this, a Unite the Right rally was arranged by a former journalist and Proud Boys member, Jason Keeler.
  • Around brunch time on August 11th, a local state of emergency was issued by the City of Charlottesville as marchers stormed the streets of the University.
  • The following day, August 12th, a sports car owned by a man named Alex Fields Jr. plowed into a crowd of counter protesters. 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed, and up to nineteen other counter-protesters were injured.
  • In the midst of all the chaos, a helicopter en route to the rally crashed and killed two state troopers.
  • Shortly thereafter, President Donald Trump held a conference where he placed blame on both the white supremacists and counter protesters.
  • President Trump later posted a tweet on Twitter, condemning white supremacy and to “be united and condemn all that hate stands for.”
  • Not long after his post, President Trump retracted and goes back to his previous statement of blaming both counter protesters and white supremacists for what happened in Charlottesville.

 

Now, with all of that said, what does a rally gone wrong in Virginia have to do with the community here at Rangeview? For starters, it can serve as a reminder that racism is still prevalent in our country – an issue that students should be aware of and able to discuss. Secondly, until last Monday, there were no clubs for students to voice their opinions about social issues such as racism, sexism, or even classism on campus. That is, until Elizabeth Stacks, a senior in Student Leadership, Theatre, and Speech and Debate, created a Social Justice Club.

 

“There’s nothing here at Rangeview that encompasses everything,” Stacks explained. “We have a BSA club, an LGBTQ club, and a LULAC club, but we don’t have a place for students to learn about these different kinds of issues, and I thought that a club would be a good environment for that.”

 

Mrs. Walsh, a social studies teacher, has become the club’s sponsor, and Honors US History teacher Mrs. Westerdale has also contributed to creating the Social Justice Club.

Stacks addresses the students in Social Justice club about the club’s mission, activities, and future events. The Social Justice Club will be held every other Monday after school from 3:30 to 4:30 PM in room 245B. (Alexis Oliver)

“From a teacher’s perspective, we have to plan how to address these events,” Mrs. Westerdale said about the protests in Virginia, “and how to make our students feel safe yet also [be able to] better understand what is happening in America.”

 

Students who joined the first meeting this past Monday shared their thoughts on how they appreciated a club like this; it’s somewhere they can express their Ideas about social issues and are able to learn more about them.

 

When asked about the goal Stacks had for her club, she said she wanted it to have an impact on the school, but more importantly, she wants: “people to feel like they have a safe place to talk about issues as minorities, or what the issues they see as non-minorities [are].”

 

As for the sponsor, Mrs. Walsh hopes that by creating a space for students to be able to “ask tough questions and work to resolve issues that arise,” she believes that Rangeview can become a better place for “students [to] be successful and ready for the real world.”

 

Essentially, the Social Justice Club is for students to be able to discuss events such as the white supremacist rally in Virginia. It is for them to be able to understand the purpose behind the rally, how it escalated into violence and terrorism, and to be able to challenge other prevalent issues in today’s society. The club’s sponsor also wants students to be able to decipher whether or not the news they read is factual in order to better understand social issues as they come to light, and to inform others if need be.

 

The Social Justice Club will be held every other Monday from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM in Mrs. Walsh’s classroom room 245B.

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