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Hello Marshall High School Community,

 

Welcome back returning students and nice to meet all of our new students. I am Dr. Garcia, the proud principal of John Marshall High School.

I hope you had a restful summer and are ready for the upcoming school year. While we face many challenges to our school that are unique in nature such as On-line Teaching and Learning in response to the Coronavirus, I would like to take this opportunity to address an issue that is long standing and needs to be addressed now. Today, I want to send a clear message about race relations at our high school and the plan to address and reduce some of the tension on campus.  

Our school district and I want all students to feel welcome at Marshall, including and especially Black students. All of us: students, families, faculty members, support staff, and the administration should also want students to be comfortable, accepted and included in our school community.

I salute Marshall students who have participated in peaceful protests that arose world-wide after the murder of Mr. George Floyd. It is important to understand that while the protests are a reaction to Mr. Floyd's murder, they are at its root a response to the long-stand racial discrimination that Black people have faced since the founding of this country. It gives me hope that they want to be a part of the conversation and action to end racial injustice in our society.

At Marshall, everyone has a role to play in creating an environment that is free from bigotry, racism and other forms of prejudice that prevent all people from achieving their potential. The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated that with education and action a world free from bigotry, anti-Black racism and gender equality is not only possible, but necessary for all of humanity. Wee must work as a unified school community to achieve the goals of the movement. Black Lives Matter.

So, what can Marshall students do this school year? I have identified three areas where you can begin and where I, along with the administrative team, teachers and other staff members, will support you:

First, and most importantly, we must understand that it is unacceptable for any non-Black person to say the N word for any reason and under any circumstance such as a casual greeting to a friend. The word has been used for centuries to convey a message of hate and it must not live in any form on campus.

 

It is not enough for any non-Black individual to not say or write the word, we must be clear to others who use the word that it is not acceptable. This goes for verbal use of the N word and on social media.

 

Second, diversity is just the beginning. We need to work towards inclusion so that all aspects of our school community not only reflect our city's diversity but make a serious and intentional effort to include perspectives and backgrounds that will lead to more

positive campus and community relations. We should also make an effort to meet and get to know students who come from different backgrounds.

 

In addition to making Marshall a place where students of different ethnicities and races get along and learn from each other, I want to encourage you during your 4 years here to take the new courses that we have opened to expand your knowledge and empathy towards your fellow classmates. We now offer ethnic studies classes and a course on Literature by Writers of Color. The Ethnic Studies Department at Los Angeles City College also has a variety of classes they are offering to our students and I hope you will contact your counselors to help you access any of these great options.

Finally, I want you to know that I hear you and I am listening to your concerns and demands for curriculum that is anti-racist, inclusive and reflective of the many experiences people of all backgrounds have contributed to this country. As your principal, I have been working with the English and History departments to expand our curriculum to include more literature and more issues as they pertain to the history of people of color in the United States and around the world. We started this work in the previous school year and it will continue to be a priority this and in the coming school years.

The Marshall administration will also review with the School Decision Making Council school policies to ensure that they are appropriate for all groups of students. We will not let this be an issue we talk about for a few weeks or months and then it goes away. We are committed to this as a new practice on our campus.

The movement for racial equality began well before George Floyd’s death and will continue long after it. I believe and I hope that you do as well, that together we can make Marshall High School a place where students feel safe, included and respected. You are the future of this city and we are counting on you to make a difference starting right here on campus.

Thank you and Go Barristers!

 

Dr. Gary Garcia