About 150 students from Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School and Sun Prairie High School walked out of class Tuesday to protest the district’s response to a blackface incident and push administration for more Black history in the curriculum.
“I walked out because in history or any of those other classes, I feel like we shouldn’t just talk about slavery. We should talk more about the history of (blackface) and the history behind that,” said student Kalaya Knight.
In a letter to school families Sunday, district administrators said a student applied black face paint at a basketball game Saturday and posted a photo of himself to social media. They said he was not wearing the paint when he arrived and would not have been admitted to the game with black face paint on. The letter further said he washed the paint off when friends intervened.
Students walked from their schools to the district administrative offices, where they met with superintendent Brad Saron. They said he seemed to take their concerns seriously.
“I hope that we opened up their eyes and … made it known about black history instead of it being just about slaves. That’s not all we were. All they teach is about the slaves,” said student Tajahlae Sago. “I feel like they understand and they’re trying to make a difference, but they are not trying hard enough. If they really wanted to make a difference, they would have.”
District officials were supportive of the walkout, providing space for the students to assemble at their school and buses from the administrative office back to school.
“I’m so proud of them. I’m getting teary-eyed,” said Sun Prairie School Board member Marilyn Peebles Ruffin. “They shared their voice. They shared their concerns. They dispelled all myths thinking that we can’t come together. They came together and made their voices heard.”