Students demonstrate for social reform in South Deerfield

  • Teenagers demonstrate for social reform, Saturday, in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Teenagers organized a demonstration concerning social reform in South Deerfield on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2020 6:43:27 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — High school students led a march for racial justice on Saturday.

Organizers explained that they are advocating not only for police reform, but also for changes in high school history curricula to better include Black history.

A crowd that looked to be about 200 to 300 strong, many carrying signs and chanting, marched from the South Deerfield Town Common, up Main Street, looped around Frontier Regional School and stopped in the field behind Tilton Library and Town Hall.

Similar demonstrations have been taking place locally since at least the beginning of June, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some have been similarly youth-centric, but most are not.

“We thought it would be powerful if it were led by teens,” said Sadie Ross, 15, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

About 10 to 15 local teens promoted the demonstration through social media over the past two weeks, she said. Eventually, it drew interest from adults as well.

Other similar youth-led demonstrations have appeared in Amherst, Northampton and Belchertown, she noted.

In many cases, Ross said, the teenagers organizing the demonstrations are also advocating for their high schools to rethink their history curricula, as the Frontier students are. Many feel that the common account of American history “brushes over” the issue of racism, and especially Black oppression, she said.

“People are realizing how little information we’re taught,” Ross said. “Something like Juneteenth, all these important moments for Black people — we’re just not taught about.”

Frontier Regional School has organized a student committee on racial issues, which has focused much of its energy on arguing for a new history curriculum, she said.

Ross said she and others also hope to organize a social justice group that would be active on a regular basis, which would be able to coordinate letter-writing campaigns and other political demonstrations.

“There are teens who care about this,” she said. “Even if sometimes it seems like there aren’t.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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