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Students protested to reverse their school district's ban on authors of color. They won.

As a result of fierce demonstrations by students of the Central York school board in Pennsylvania, anti-racism resources will return to the district's curriculum.

Students protested to reverse their school district's ban on authors of color. They won.
Image Source: consciouskidlib / Twitter

The Central York school board in southern Pennsylvania has decided to reverse its ban on books written by authors of color after its students held relentless demonstrations. The ban, which was extended to books and resources on anti-racism and critical race theory, was approved by the board last year. Following the student protests as well as a heated virtual school board meeting about the "diversity resource list," the Central York school board unanimously approved the reinstatement of anti-racism resources. While the York school student group claimed it was surprised by the board's vote to reverse the ban, community leaders believed the reversal was an example of how community organization can achieve great feats, CNN reports.


"The reversal of this ban was surprising but not surprising in a way most think," the Panther Anti-Racist Union (PARU) Executive Board shared in a statement. "We hope that this was a lesson for this community and leadership: that injustice cannot and will not be tolerated any longer." Ben Hodges, a Central York High School teacher and PARU staff adviser, explained that the decision to reverse the ban was prompted mostly by the powerful protests the students held. He said, "[It took five high school students] organizing a peaceful walk-in protest for each day two weeks ago to help make sure that our district heard that they (and many others) did not feel represented by this resource ban."


"They are heroes and should be celebrated as bastions of American freedom and democracy," Hodges affirmed. "I want to be clear, these kids did this." According to officials from the school board, the ban had not come into force yet. The materials in question had been "frozen" while the board began the process of vetting them. However, this process took nearly a year to complete. Some of the "frozen" resources included a children's book about civil rights activist Rosa Parks, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai's autobiography, and CNN's Sesame Street town hall on racism.


Thankfully, the ban will be lifted immediately,  spokeswoman Julie Randall Romig confirmed in a statement to CNN. The decision comes at a time when students call for more inclusive and safer academic spaces on campus. Last summer, as racial justice protests broke around the country, Republicans introduced the "Ending Critical Race Theory in D.C. Public Schools Act." The Central York school board's experience may set an important precedent for protecting young people's right to learn about the history of racism and its deep roots in America's foundations.


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