Students at many B.C. schools wore black shirts Friday to make a statement against racism.
Organizers missed the December deadline to have the B.C. Ministry of Education officially proclaim Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, as Black Shirt Day.
However, that did not stop many schools and districts from throwing their support behind the gesture to mark the civil rights struggle of Black Canadians and push for the inclusion of more Black history in the curriculum.
One of the organizers of the movement, Kamika Williams with the Anti-Racism Coalition of Vancouver, said she is very happy with the way many schools and groups are embracing the initiative.
“We were actually tagged in a post from Germany today so we were pretty excited about that.” she said.
Williams said she graduated in 2004 and she does not remember learning about any Black history in school.
“So we thought having a Black Shirt Day would not only be a great day to raise awareness but have a day of mandatory curriculum,” she added.
“There’s a lot of Black people in Canada who aren’t represented in the educational system. It’s a form of systemic racism. You go to school and none of the teachers and the principals look like you and none of the stories they talk about in history reflect anyone who looks like you. Although you’ve been here for hundreds of years.”
Ramona Orr, the drama teacher at Vancouver Technical School, told Global News Friday many of her students were taking part.
“It’s a funny time because we’re not seeing each other as much as we normally would but we just took a big staff photo in front of the school of the staff wearing all black shirts,” she said.
The goal is now to have Jan. 15, 2022, officially proclaimed as Black Shirt Day in the province.
More than 4,000 people have signed a Black Shirt Day petition, directed at B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, since it was launched in late November.