Week-long series of events puts spotlight on racial justice

  • Lidia Yen moderates the discussion in a Zoom forum for Concord School Board candidates, hosted by Change for Concord and the American Friends Service Committee NH on Oct. 23, 2020.

Monitor staff
Published: 1/18/2021 2:13:41 PM

Local activist organization Change for Concord is planning four days of virtual events this week, intended to spotlight racial justice issues in the Concord community and school district.

“We wanted to host an event involving students to address issues surrounding the school district, as  well as take actions to make positive changes in the schools," said Change for Concord leader Lidia Yen. “So we decided to have a week of action where students, parents and community members can participate as well as learn about these issues.” 

In a video series called “Discovery Hour,” the organization will publish video interviews every day at noon that members conducted with Concord High students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds talking about their experiences – both positive and negative.

On Monday night from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the group is hosting a community letter writing event where they will discuss how the presence of school resource officers impacts students.

“We are seeking an alternative approach to address issues of mental health and other concerns related to student well-being,” said Change for Concord member Manju Gurung. At the event, the group will compose a letter to school administrators, sharing their perspectives on school resource officers.

On Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. the group is hosting an email and phone banking “zap” session, where participants will send out phone and email messages to members of the community, advocating for equity in Concord schools. Change for Concord will provide training and a pre-written script.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the group will hold a meet-and-greet event with members of the Concord School Board. 

“We tend to see school board members in a formal setting, and we realize that poses barriers to getting to know them,” said Change for Concord member Steven Kidder. “We believe establishing these kids of relationships will help school board members better interact with their constituents in the long-term.”

One of the School Board’s first actions taken this year at the January meeting was the adoption of an official statement promising to stand up against racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry, and make the district a more inclusive place. Two School Board members, Kate West and Jonathan Weinberg, are also members of Change for Concord.

The week’s events are happening as part of a collaboration between Concord High School students and Black Lives Matter North Country, Change for Concord announced.

Yen estimated that around 98% of the organization’s membership are Concord High School alumni, meaning the group has a personal interest in improving equity in the district.

“These issues happening within the Concord School District, they are important to us and that is also why we’re doing this,” Yen said. “We want to help students as much as possible.”

More information, including event sign-up links, can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

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