Today, on Juneteenth, I am so proud to announce a new project to elevate the voices of young people: the Chalkbeat Student Takeover.
Since May 25, the day a police officer killed George Floyd, we’ve gathered several times as a team to reflect and share. One Black colleague talked about his fatigue at continuously seeing people like him unjustly killed. Another spoke about being the mother of a Black boy, and her accompanying emotions every time a George Floyd, or Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown made headlines. Many of us agreed that our journalism’s focus on education and equity was more important than ever, but also not enough. One coworker made a powerful suggestion: What could we do to hear even more from students, and invite others to listen to them, too? Enthusiastic yeses filled our Zoom chat box.
Three weeks later, we are handing the mic over to young people, thanks to the 300 submissions we received in response to a callout asking how protests and conversations about racism are affecting them.
The students’ powerful stories express anger, convey skepticism, offer ideas for change, and demonstrate resilience.
We chose Juneteenth to announce this project to our readers after reading one historian’s description of the holiday: “a potent life-giving event … a joyful retort to messages of overt racism.” We can’t imagine a better description of the student voices we have the privilege of showcasing.
The project will launch on Monday with a 24-hour homepage takeover and continue with content throughout the week. I hope you’ll find the six-word stories, art pieces, social media commentary, and First Person essays as moving as we have. As always, we invite your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.