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Cayuga Heights First-Graders March for Black Lives Matter at School

The idea of a march came when a student in Christine Barley's first-grade class at Cayuga Heights Elementary School connected the library read-aloud We March by Shane W. Evans to what the class had been studying around Black Lives Matter at School's 13 Guiding Principles, specifically the Principle of Unapologetically Black:

There are lots of different kinds of people and one way that we’re different is the color of our skin. It’s important to make sure that all people are treated fairly. This is why we, and lots of other people all over the country and the world, are part of the Black Lives Matter at School Movement.

The student asked Barley if they could march for Black Lives Matter at School and make "flags" or posters to carry. They then brainstormed the idea to walk around the school with the posters and asked their classmates if they wanted to participate, and the whole class excitedly agreed.

The class then brainstormed what they wanted on their posters. They chose phrases or ideas that they wanted to highlight in their protest, and the ideas were outlined in marker. The students then had the opportunity to decorate their posters with their chosen messages.

On the day of the march, two students made an announcement on the morning intercom that the march was going to happen at 8:30 a.m. They proceeded to pick up their posters and walk through each hallway of Cayuga Heights chanting "Black Lives Matter at School! You know it!" (See a short recording of the march here.)

"I believe that students' ideas should be supported and my role was as a facilitator to make sure their idea came to fruition," said Barley. "It amazes me what leaders my first-graders are!"
Cayuga Heights first grade class with Black Lives Matter at School posters