INDIANAPOLIS – On Juneteenth, several Marion County school athletic facilities will turn on their lights at 10:14 p.m. and keep them on for eight minutes and 46 seconds as a tribute to George Floyd. This demonstration also kicks off an initiative called “No Racism Zone” by 11 Marion County superintendents.
“We felt like Marion County public schools needed to come together and unify regarding this very important effort, and we are standing in solidarity with our communities to build a more just and compassionate world that we know is needed,” said Nikki Woodson, superintendent of Washington Township Schools. “We want to stand to abolish racism; we want to value social justice and respect human dignity. As leaders of public school districts with Marion County, we felt like this unified approach was very important.”
The initiative will also feature:
- “No Racism Zone” signs will be placed in each District to show their commitment
- Resources will be posted to help parents have age-appropriate conversations with their children about anti-racism and social justice needs
- Superintendents will work with their Boards on ways to address racial equity
Superintendent Woodson has a son will be a freshman at North Central High School next school year. She says this initiative is personal to her.
“When I think about hearing stories from my grandparents about racism, they had to experience growing up, and then hearing the same stories from my own parents about racism that they had to endure and experience growing up,” she explained. Now, three generations later, I’m still having those same conversations with my black son about racism and what he needs to know to interface with society safely.”
Christian Woodson says having conversations about racism with his mom really opened his eyes to the injustices in the world.
“When I was growing up, I always thought everything was perfect and that nothing really had influence on my skin color,” he said. “Then growing up I learned that being black you have to do certain things and be safe around cops, and you can’t do certain things as white people would do.”
Superintendent Woodson hopes that by having the same conversations with her son that so many families are having with their children, it will empower the younger generation to be part of change in our society.
“It is my hope that his generation end these conversations that when he’s talking to his children, he can talk about, ‘Do you remember when there had to be movements and action taken to end racism? I’m going to tell you about that time’ versus still interfacing with the social justice issues that we have today,” Woodson said. “Hopefully, we can end this with this generation.”
Woodson points out, in order to create change it doesn’t stop with just having one conversation.
“We know this is on-going work that we have to do to create the change that is needed, and we certainly cannot do this alone,” said Woodson. “We look forward to the engagement of our parents, along with the whole community because this is systems that have to be examined. It’s not about K-12 or about the police department. It’s about all of us examining all of our systems for anti-racism and social justice to impact the change that’s needed.”
Schools lighting up their stadiums in tribute to George Floyd:
- Lawrence North High School
- Lawrence Central High School
- North Central High School
- Decatur Central High School
- Warren Central High School
- Ben Davis High School
- Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center
- Southport High School
- Perry Meridian High School
- Mary Bryan Elementary/Holder Field
- Pike High School
- Franklin Central High School
- Shortridge High School Field
- Beech Grove High School
- Speedway High School