As many as 100 students gathered in the cafeteria of Gwinnett County’s Archer High School in suburban Atlanta on Thursday morning, staging what they’re calling a Pledge of Allegiance sit-in. The protest comes a day after the school’s principal sent a letter to parents about racially divisive comments made by a student on social media. Principal Ken Johnson sent the letter to address a student’s recent use of racial slurs in social media posts referencing the number of Black students at the school.
“As you can imagine, these comments were concerning to individuals at our school and in our community and hurtful to others…,” Johnson’s letter said. “I think it important for you to know that we are aware of this situation and are working to address it with the student involved and his family. Concerns have been raised that other students may act out in retaliation or protest. We continue to talk to students and remain vigilant to ensure our school remains a safe, secure, and orderly place for all of our students.”
Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the school “acted quickly and appropriately,” but one of the protesting students said Thursday’s sit-in was a direct response to the incident — and the belief school administration “isn’t taking enough action, because they haven’t even addressed the student body.”
“As you can imagine we are upset, but we are also hurt, we aren’t looking for revenge, we are looking for equality and respect,” said an Archer senior in a text message to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We say ‘Black Lives Matter’ not because Black lives are more superior than other races, but because the Black race is under constant attack. This is a very sensitive issue that we aren’t taking lightly.”
Students involved in the “movement” reportedly plan to wear all black clothing on Friday. Gwinnett county is considered a college sports recruiting hotbed in the Southeast, and Archer High School is among the most competitive in the state.