‘It’s important everyone hears our voices:’ DCPS Students rally for seat at the table with district leadership to affect change

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County students are calling for real, concrete change in the public school system.

This comes after peaceful demonstrations, we first told you about here on Action News Jax last week.

RELATED STORY: DCPS discontinuing ‘You Matter Month’ slogan after Black Lives Matter protests at Jacksonville area high schools

Some students were calling for the name change of the “You Matter” teen suicide prevention campaign; students told Action News Jax they believe the title overshadowed Black History Month and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole went to the student-led rally held at the Duval County Public Schools Headquarters on the Southbank today. She learned what they’re asking the Duval County School Board to do to help them make a difference for all students, for years to come.

“We are here to ask the school board to give students a seat at the table,” Deyona Burton said to her fellow students and those gathered in support, outside of the DCPS Headquarters on Monday afternoon.

Burton, the Senior Class President at Lee High School, said they want to work with district leadership to make sure inclusion and diversity are priorities moving forward.

“It can’t and won’t stop with just us! The Freshman, the 8th graders, the elementary school students that see what we’re doing and hear what we’re doing,” said Danyel Clark, a student at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Nicole Hamm, Douglas Anderson alumna, said this starts with the way Black history is being taught to students.

“I am a proud Duval county public school alumni, and it was not until I went off to Howard University that I realized that there were so many gaps in the history that was taught,” Hamm said.

Hamm told Cole she remembers taking AP Government and AP Economics classes, and even in those advanced classes, she said there were so many gaps about different histories and different cultures.

Lydia Hanson, a student at Douglas Anderson, told Cole mental health resources for black students would make a big difference, too.

“Black young people have to grow up faster than our other white counterparts, and that is so important to teach because there is nothing in our school system that is just directly for me as a black student,” Hanson said.

Duval County School Board Vice Chairman Darryl Willie, along with local civil rights activist Rodney Hurst, The Northside Coalition and Take ‘Em Down Jax also came out in support of the students.

Students and local activists are also calling for nine campuses, named after confederate leaders, to be re-named.

DCPS superintendent Dr. Diana Greene had this message for students: