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Buffalo Public Schools students take on social justice in youth town hall

Posted at 4:57 AM, Apr 22, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Students in the Buffalo Public School District tackled tough topics surrounding social justice in a special youth town hall Thursday.

The virtual town hall was put on by the district's Office of Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Initiatives. Approximately 15 student scholars were joined by BPS administrators, Mayor Byron Brown, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and Cariol Horne.

Students watched the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, and shared their reactions.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but I feel as though I don't have a sigh of relief,” said 12th grader Byron Chavis.

“It just made me feel more grit to go after my voice, it just made me feel more open to create that change," said 12th grader Azhane Bridges.

On police reform, students said officers need to have more training, especially when it comes to addressing mental health situations.

Some students also said communication needs to improve.

District leaders hoped to help foster dialogue on several topics, as they pertain to children and young adults, such as:

  • The impact of systemic racism
  • Gun violence in our communities
  • National tragedies related to Daunte Wright, the Chauvin trial, & the abusive arrest of Lieutenant Nazario
  • Community justice practices for change
  • Preparing and empowering our future leaders for leadership in a democratic society

Students were asked how they'd become youth activists for social justice like Darnella Frazier. The 17-year-old filmed George Floyd's death on her cell phone, that sparked an international movement and was a key piece of evidence in the trial.

“This is like just one of the victory’s that we need, there’s many more victories that we need in order to truly be in a place that we can say that we can go out and not have to worry about coming back potentially in a body bag," said 12th grader Deborah Bellevue.