Grandchildren of brown
When I was in high school, then-Propublica reporter Nikole Hannah Jones was working on a piece about school segregation in Tuscaloosa. She came to my newsroom, as well as Central High School's, and enlisted our help. We were to shoot photos of race relations in our schools, which were later displayed in a local exhibit and on the New York Times' LENS blog. From there, I and a team of students from both schools founded the system's first intra-city exchange program, in which we would create a publication detailing our experience at each other's schools. This project took months, and several pleas to the school board, to finally get approval, but it was what essentially kickstarted my career in journalism and my commitment to writing stories – local stories – about race and education.
At the University of Alabama, I've continued to tell the story of segregation in Tuscaloosa through my studies in critical race theory and historical analysis. I wanted to amplify the voices of students in the first piece, so I conducted a literature review that worked to identify and explain student protest at Central High School. The aim was to show that Black students in Tuscaloosa were not powerless or merely victims of segregation; they were fighting against it this whole time. The second piece brings in several pieces of literature, as well as my own experience, to tell another story about Black students' experiences in 'de-segregated' schools like Northridge High School. This piece used rational theory to identify the effects of Whiteness in educational power structures, such as academic tracking and bias in enforcing discipline policies. You can read both below: