Local News, News Briefs

The Rutland Area NAACP educates for Black History Month

The Rutland area branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding a contest challenging high school-age students to reflect on policies and laws that perpetuate racism, and will also be distributing an educational video and additional resources on the Black Panther Party’s 10 Point Program.

The branch will be facilitating a Black History Month contest for high school students in the Rutland, Bennington and Addison counties. The contest is co-sponsored by the Vermont Student Anti Racist Network (VSARN). The prompt for this year’s contest is to choose a law or policy from a list provided and demonstrate how it perpetuates racism. The list of laws and policies include divisive concepts and qualified immunity, among others.

“We are at a time where there is no doubt that there are institutional barriers built into our laws and policies that prevent us from moving forward as a nation to confront and eradicate racism. We wanted to challenge students to think about how to identify and confront this injustice and we thought this contest would do just that,” said Mia Schultz, president of the Rutland Area NAACP branch.

The entries for the contest can be submitted in three categories — writing, visual or audio. One winner in each category will receive $500.

“This is a chance for students to have their voices heard on topics of racial justice that are too often not talked about. This is a chance for young people to learn, design and start important conversations in the community” said Addie Lentzner, founder of the Vermont Student AntiRacist Network.

In addition to the contest, the branch has created a “Teachable Talk” discussing the Black Panther Party 10 Point Program, which was released on May 15, 1967 by the Black Panther Party to articulate the needs and demands that they wanted to communicate to members, the government, and the world. Third vice president, Alana Harte and President Schultz facilitated a recorded conversation on the subject with students from Castleton University and a student from Arlington High School.

The video is both educational and conversational. The slide deck and “Teachable Talk” will be distributed to schools in Rutland, Bennington, and Addison counties as a tool and resource for educators.

“It’s critical that we engage young people around the history they don’t hear, and offer resources for educators to offer instruction on important yet often erased history, “ said Harte.

Additional resources are included in the description of the video. The branch hopes to offer more recorded conversations in the future surrounding subjects and history about people of color that have been historically missing from curriculum.

“I have heard from educators that there are not many resources for them to draw on to teach about not just the accurate history of oppression of BIPOC people but also the contributions and accomplishments of people of color throughout history and today. We wanted to fill a gap and will continue to make strides to continue that effort, to ensure that the children have the opportunity to learn about what it means to be a global citizen.”

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