On January 23, 2018, Montpelier Vermont Public Schools issues a press release that Montpelier High School would fly the Black Lives Matter flag during Black History Month (February). The students came to the School Board with the idea, and it was approved on January 17. Normally, that would be the end of the story unless you lived in Montpelier, but these are far from normal times.
This story was picked up by the national media in all of its forms. I first learned of this thanks to a ManKind Project New England email on January 28 from an area man asking for support for his daughter who is a teacher at Montpelier High. Here it is with the families permission.
Scott McLane here from Cape Cod. My daughter Heather teaches social studies courses at the Montpelier VT high school. Her school decided to fly the Black Lives Matter flag in honor of Black History Month and this has generated quite a bit of press, including an article in Breitbart News, and a piece in another hate group website (see the below emails from my daughter with links to the articles). Now they are getting a lot of hate mail and hate phone calls which they find frightening. Heather is therefore requesting that notes of support be sent to students, the principal and the administration at the below address.
Racial Justice Alliance, c/o Montpelier High School, Montpelier, VT 05602.
All notes would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for any help you can give, and please feel free to pass this email on!!
From: Heather McLane
Sent: Sat, Jan 27, 2018 8:38 pm
Subject: Re: Black Lives Matter Flag
A student I love has been working with my club to put on a Ghanaian dinner and culture night and I have been so excited about it but after looking at this website this morning, I am feeling really scared (and sad). I emailed the principal and he emailed back that they will have a policeman stopping everyone as they come into the school’s driveway. I’m not sure I feel completely reassured. I worry for my students whose names are out in the press and are easily identifiable because their last names are unique in our small town.
If anyone is willing to write a note of support to the students or principal, that would be much appreciated. Our principal and superintendent are dealing with hate calls and hate mail around the clock right now and any positive affirmation means a lot to them. I think the students have been fairly insulated so far but I really worry about them once they become more aware.
This offers an excellent opportunity to read coverage of the same story through the traditional media (or “fake news” depending on your viewpoint) and that of the Alt-Right news. Here is a mainstream article from NBC and here is Breitbart’s version. The comments below the Breitbart version are what is distressing the staff and students of the school. Some commenters compared the BLM flag to that of ISIS.
The Black Lives Matter flag began flying on February 1st. Here is a recent story from the AP. Despite the threats and a police presence, all was calm as not a single protester showed up. It seems the internet trolls stayed in their holes. I hope they remain there.
I’m sure the Montpelier students and staff would still love to receive more notes of support if you feel so inclined.
Racial Justice Alliance, c/o Montpelier High School, Montpelier, VT 05602
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Photo credit: Associated Press