Advocating for Change

Students share their experiences with the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement and its importance to American society.

Grace Leonardi, Managing Editor

We’ve all heard of the bill of rights, but what does it actually do for us? Let’s break down the first amendment. The first amendment was ratified in 1791 as part of the bill of rights: otherwise known as the first ten amendments of the US constitution.

The first amendment has four parts. It tells us that congress can’t make any laws that prevent us from freedom of religion, speech, press or peacefully gathering to petition the government. The fourth part of the first amendment is especially important because it allows us to basically show up and complain about the government to the government.

The latter of the parts of the first amendment ties into the main focus today, the rebirth of the Black Lives Matter movement as a result of the deaths of many Americans including George Floyd and Breonnna Taylor. People of color have been struggling throughout history and have recently spoken up again about their right to equality, holding frequent peaceful protests throughout the spring and summer.

These gatherings have been a safe and positive way to spread awareness to the very important cause. Allies of all different backgrounds masked up with empowering signs and words of wisdom to show their support and kickstart the changes that need to be made in society.

Black voices spoke out about their experiences in life from police brutality to systemic racism and its effect on their daily lives, opening the eyes of white allies. It was a display of our first amendment rights to every facet.

L’anse Creuse senior Caleb Mallery shared “Going to the protest was an amazing and powerful experience for me. It really opened my eyes to their experiences. Seeing so many white allies attend, not to speak out about something they don’t experience, but just to listen and support was so important and powerful.”

“We chanted and gave our energy and power to the people whose voices aren’t always heard. It was beautiful.”

He shared that this was his first protest and that he hopes to bring about change by spreading awareness as best as he can and using his privilege and spirits to do so.

Groups of different sizes gathered all throughout spring and summer, taking proper precautions; distancing and wearing masks to assure the safety of all attendees. Additionally, there are many petitions going around getting tons of signatures to try and bring about a change in society.

“I have been spreading my support on social media by posting and signing petitions as well as attending a protest,” senior Mackenzie Olmstead said.

it’s cruel to treat another human with not only disrespect, but unjust actions simply because they look different from you. We are all just human at the end of the day”

— Mackenzie Olmstead

“The cause is important to me because it’s cruel to treat another human with not only disrespect, but unjust actions simply because they look different from you. We are all just human at the end of the day.”

Advocating for a change comes with listening and understanding the perspectives of people of color. Senior Gabrielle Rhodes shares her experiences of the impact of racial injustice on her daily life.

“I have faced some of the same prejudices as my ancestors which really shows the need for growth in our country. The looming shadow of racism must be stopped for my success in the future.”

Rhodes expressed her passion to make a difference when she said “I absolutely agree with the protests. The majority of them are peaceful and are often beneficial in spreading the message that this isn’t a trend, it’s real life and history.”

She advises allies to attend the protests, wear masks and try to take in as much information as possible and educate themselves about this country’s best and worst moments in black history.

Tying this back to the first amendment which is so important, allows us to peacefully support the movement and advocate for change in the government and society.

Principal Thomas Lietz showed his support in agreeing that all people should have free speech and that everybody should be given the right to stand up for something they believe in as long as they do it the right way and go through the processes required; sharing his views on the importance of the first amendment and how it’s powerful enough to allow people the freedom to speak their minds no matter their views.

“I have a very profound respect for freedom of speech at its very core,” Lietz said. “Every student should have freedom of speech, and we as Americans have categorical free speech. It is a protected right in the constitution and I believe it’s very important”

He shared how the most important part of utilizing our free speech and right to peaceful protest is doing it the right way.

“If processes are not used, those rights are no longer yours and should be restricted,” he added.

Our job as American citizens is to protect the rights of all people and as allies to advocate for equality. The color of your skin should not determine your worth or the way you are treated. We are all humans and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

Celebrity and local allies have agreed and shared that it is important to make sure this movement does not die down over time, and to advocate for change and improvement in society, life and America.