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Spring Valley students walk out of class demanding Black History Month recognition

Students in Spring Valley walked out of class to call attention to what they say is a lack of Black History Month lessons or celebrations at Monte Vista High School.

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — Filing out of class for an hour and into the Monte Vista High School parking lot, dozens of students simply walked out at 10:30 a.m. Some had their fists raised in the air, and the others held up signs.

 Chanting "Power to the people” and “the people united will never be divided,” students took it to the streets and marched along Sweetwater Springs Boulevard in Spring Valley.

While holding up signs that read, “Change our system and “acknowledge our past, you're forgetting too fast,” the group of students said their message for wanting their school to acknowledge Black History Month was made clear.

"We can't have months like this where you recognize the history and the contributions that we've made to the community and the world, and they just skip over us. They made empty promises, they said that they would do something about it and made apologies, but here we are again,” said sophomore Deonte Sharp II.

Sophomore Lyrique Lee says last year she brought up this concern to school administrators and was able to get “Happy Black History Month” displayed on the Monte Vista marquee. But this year, she says there has been nothing.

“I emailed the school, and I emailed the principal and we had a zoom meeting which only lasted 30 minutes, but I only got 5 minutes to speak because everyone didn’t how to connect to Zoom. They promised me all this stuff and these demands and stuff and they did not meet those promises, they lied to me,” said Lee, who organized the walkout.

In a statement from the Grossmont Union High School District, Superintendent Theresa Kemper says: 

“GUHSD and the caring staff at Monte Vista High School will always keep our doors, ears, and minds open to the concerns of our students. Monte Vista’s administration met with our student leaders after their peaceful demonstration, and those discussions will continue. Given the willingness of our staff to honestly hear-out their concerns, we encourage our students to engage in direct dialogue with our school leadership before deciding to protest in the future. The safety of our students is our top priority, and we never want them to fall behind, so it’s important that they remain in class.”

Members of the community also rallied side by side with students.

“Our efforts are trickling down to the younger generations, and they're now mobilizing together to bring acknowledgment to their school that they're not satisfied with the curriculum and teaching more than just slavery and Jim Crow but teach all cultures the history so we all know that particular races contributed to society,” said a Black Panther Party San Diego member called Joker.

Students demanded Black History lesson plans and hoped their concerns were heard.

"If we don't learn it ourselves, we won't learn it in school, the school needs to do better. Lessons being taught in class, Instagram posts and shout outs aren't enough, we need to teach real history, just not black awareness but black history,” Sharp II said.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego high school students protest dress codes, calling them 'sexist' and 'outdated' (Sep. 2021).

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