As the month of April ended, so too did Memorial’s first All School Read. It was a huge success, creating meaningful conversations about social issues and giving an opportunity to ask questions to police officers. There was also a privilege walk open to the whole school. But perhaps the most exciting event- which happened through the hard work of the students and staff involved in the planning committee- was the authors of All American Boys coming to Memorial to give a talk about their book. JMM had its first All-School Assembly in over 30 years! The authors, Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds each told a story about an experience they had with the police when they were teens, but with drastically different outcomes (read more about it in Evanka and Garrett’s article). The authors explained how they used these real life experiences and captured that emotion to write All American Boys. They brought to light the racial prejudice that still happens in our less than perfect world.
During third period on April 3rd, every student at Memorial received their own copy of Jason Reynolds’ and Brendan Kiely’s book, All American Boys, to read and keep. The purpose of distributing the novel was to bring the school community closer together, and to spark some conversation about the central themes of the book. All American Boys allows the reader to explore issues that are very prevalent in today’s society, such as race, inequality, white privilege, and police brutality. These are things that we need to talk about, and educate ourselves on, because our generation has a responsibility to fight inequality. The change won’t happen by itself, but the first step is to make people aware.
Personally, I found the All School Read to be an awesome project. I really like the book and encourage all of you who haven’t picked up your copy to take some time and read it. It still seems a little crazy to me to think about how a person could go into a corner store for no other reason than to buy chips for a party and have the situation escalate to getting the police involved. That’s what happened to Rashad Butler in the story, and it mirrors other similar instances where innocent people have found themselves in very serious situations involving the police for doing mundane, legal, normal activities. We need to understand that these things do occur, so we can bring justice for the real-life Rashad Butlers.
We need help and support from the police force as well to address this problem The Madison police department is helping solve this issue by stationing police officers in our high schools, to build good relationships with the police and teens. Our whole community is working on becoming stronger and better together.
A big thanks to everyone who worked on the All School Read for making it a huge success! This is a step in the right direction to gain a better understanding of the challenges we face as a society.
– Lily Lowndes