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District 7 Statement on Social Justice and Racial Reconciliation

Message from our Superintendent It goes without saying that the last several months have been difficult moments for our nation, state, community and school district.  The global pandemic has added significant stress to our students and our families. The tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd (to name a few), and the racial unrest we are experiencing as a result have exacerbated the strain on our children. We are concerned about their well-being and how they are processing all of this.

On June 2, our Spartanburg School District Seven faculty and staff convened in Viking Stadium to share insight amid this racial tension. We later followed up with a correspondence sharing thoughts and expectations for each of us moving forward.   

In District 7, we acknowledge that inequities and social injustice continue to exist. We stand united in our conviction that this is no time to debate which lives matter. As educators, we know that every child is different, and we must reach them where they are.  As we find our nearly 4,500 African-American students in a place of turmoil and unrest, we want them to know, “We see you. We are here for you. Your lives matter.”

As educators who look to history as our best teacher, we affirm the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: 

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.  We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.  In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time.  Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity…There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect…We still have a choice today.”

We firmly believe that our students learn more from what we do than what we say, and as such we are committed to action. We have refused to let discomfort impede our responsibility to call out racism, prejudice and injustice when we see it. As much as we would like to believe our schools are places of inclusion, we admit we have work to do. We commit to growing together and holding one another accountable by opening our eyes to the privilege and discrimination that is tied to the color of our skin. We are unwavering in our resolve to work collaboratively across all segments of our broader community to support our students as they grow into leaders who will create an inclusive future for all.

District Seven has been a leader in this arena.  We are a key partner in supporting the work of the Racial Equity Institute, the Diversity Leaders Initiative, the Network for Southern Economic Mobility, our city’s Northside and Highland communities, and a host of community efforts aimed at bringing forth equitable outcomes for our citizens.  Internally, the creation of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion further underscores our district’s commitment to the work of fairness and inclusiveness for all students and staff.  

We ask you to stand beside us and join us in this work.  You can begin by committing to educating yourself and by talking with your children.  Our Diversity and Inclusion toolkit provides resources that will be of help along our collective journey.  We know it will take more, but this is a good beginning point.

Let’s stand together, today and going forward, to build hope within our children for their future. Our schools are a reflection of our society, and it is therefore contingent upon all of us to eradicate indifference, prejudice, and racism.  Our role in opening our children’s eyes to the essential value within each and every citizen can and will prepare them to break the cycle of our past and respond to the fierce urgency of now. If we are vigilant today, racial reconciliation can be realized, and for them it will not be too late.

 

Let’s move forward together,

 

Russell W. Booker, Superintendent

Jeff Stevens, Superintendent-Elect