The Ethel Walker School Explores Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System on MLK Day

Each year on MLK Day, instead of taking a day off, members of The Ethel Walker School community actively engage in expanding their knowledge and renewing their commitment to social justice. This year’s programming focused on systemic racism in the U.S. criminal justice system, and was developed and facilitated by students.

Students who participated in the weeklong J-term class, “The New Jim Crow: Racism in the Criminal Justice System,” were asked to apply what they had learned by creating this year’s MLK Day programming for Upper School students and faculty. Students presented an overview of systemic racism followed by three student-led workshops on Stop and Frisk policies, the “school to prison pipeline,” and mass incarceration. Participants rotated among the workshops, which encouraged active discussion about the topics covered.

Senior Enajite Igho, Head of Walker’s Justice League and one of the program’s organizer’s, said, “It was a great day to be a member of this community, and to see our students and faculty so open to learning. Everyone was very interested, engaged, and respectful of the diverse ideas and perspectives that were shared.”

Dr. Sheri Schmidt, Director of Equity and Social Justice at Walker’s said, “While this topic was selected well before the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner last summer, because of recent events, it seems even more timely and relevant that we focus on this topic this year. We hope these workshops and activities helped to increase our understanding about why the deaths of those two men led to so much protest and outrage across the county.”

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