Durshun Shah, Hannah Kuecker and Layla Vital, all students at Clear Springs High School, helped to organize a peaceful protest against police brutality and inequality on the afternoon of June 14. Nearly 300 people of all ages attended, Vital said, including League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and U.S. District 14 candidate Adrienne Bell. The students' goal was to encourage their peers to pay attention to social issues and understand the importance of taking action locally, including showing up at the polls for upcoming elections.
The group chose to start and end the demonstration at their high school, Shah said, because they want to see more discussions about race and inequality happening in the district’s classrooms. The students agreed that their history education at CCISD could be more inclusive; for example, their Advanced Placement history textbooks have small sections on women’s history and Black history, but this history is not integrated throughout the course, Kuecker said.
Vital said she hopes to see local educators take a different approach to history education that includes discussion around Black civil rights movements and organizers, such as the Black Panther Party.
“When we touch on Black history, it’s kind of limited in the sense where we only talk about stuff like slavery,” she added. “We need to broaden the standpoint on what we teach on Black history.”
The group spoke at a League City City Council meeting June 9. Kuecker said they have formed a loose agenda, including goals related to making local education more inclusive and transparent.
Police reform is also at the top of their agenda: Kuecker said they would like to see the basic tenets of the proposed Justice in Policing Act of 2020 applied in League City, regardless of what happens with the bill at a federal level. In an ideal world, there would be a more trusting relationship between police officers and the communities they serve, Shah said.
“We don't have all the answers—we’re just teenagers—but we’re identifying there’s a problem in our society,” Shah said.
Vital agreed, emphasizing the importance of starting uncomfortable conversations.
“I hope that we’re going to get the ball rolling talking about this,” Vital said. “I just hope it sparks more empathy for the issues people of color have to go through.”