Over 200 people participated in a citywide school walkout, followed by a gathering at the Philadelphia Board of Education last week. The Graduate Student Union of Temple University organized the Nov. 17 march to commemorate a Nov. 17, 1967 mass protest.
In 1967, the protesters demanded that the school board implant changes to the curriculum. The marchers demanded changes to the learning environment to better reflect the history of African people. Despite the fact that almost 70 percent of all students enrolled are of African origin, the curriculum still does not reflect that years after the initial march.
This year’s march sought to remind officials of promises made to re-establish earlier commitments toward making the syllabus more African centered. Protestors believed it was imperative for African students to know of their history.
Although not in a specific relation to the push to put forward a renewed focus on black history, others issues were also brought to attention. Safety concerns at the school were also highlighted. Over the years, there has been a 41 percent increase in school violence due to the lack of security and assistance for teachers. These requests were to make the schools in Philadelphia better overall for students. Demonstrators requested more funding to make this goal a reality.
Both Temple University faculty and students joined the protests. Mikiel Nero is one student participant. “Today was a much needed powerful demonstration,” he said.
Since the event took place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., many students were not able to attend due to threats of suspension. The organizers of the event were informed that area principals had issued directives to not attend.
Police officers were on hand to prevent any disturbances however there were no altercations. The organizers were disappointed more students were unable to attend; the turnout for this year’s rally was lower than the original march.
Stephanie Guerilus can be reached at LUV2bSteph@aol.com.