Students Throughout Long Island Come Together to Participate in a Racial Justice Workshop

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On January, 21, Martin Luther King Day, over 50 high school students from all over Long Island came together to participate in ERASE Racism's 4th Annual Student Leadership Forum.

Long Island students participating in ERASE Racism's Student Leadership Forum

I can take what I learned today and make a difference starting in my community.

ERASE Racism's 4th Annual Student Leadership Forum was a huge success! For the first time we held the Forum on Martin Luther King Day, providing over 50 Long Island high school students with a unique and meaningful way to commemorate one of the most important leaders for racial justice in our nation's history while deepening their understanding about the current struggle for civil rights. The six hour workshop began with a treasure hunt icebreaker, which gave students the chance to meet youth from 12 different school districts while challenging their own stereotypes and assumptions about one another. Sergio Argueta, Former Executive Director of STRONG Youth, Inc. and the current Director of the Undergraduate Program of the School of Social Work at Adelphi University spoke to the students about the legacy of Dr. King, the urgency to take action, and the power that youth hold to make a difference in the fight for equity. Throughout the day the students watched clips and participated in discussions that expanded their knowledge about the history of racism in the US and how race continues to affect all of us. When asked "How much did you learn about these issues after participating?" 63% of the students chose "a lot" on their evaluation sheets; 37% selected "some" and no participant chose "not much" or "nothing." One student, who wrote an article about her experience at the Forum said, "The students who participated in the Student Leadership Forum are better able to recognize racism in all its forms and are inspired to make a difference...We can no longer turn a blind eye to the racial discrimination that goes on all around us. We will strive to be the voice that speaks words of equality and change!"

Here are some comments from the participants:

"It was very interesting, eye-opening and it inspired me to do something. I understand the issues of racism more."

"I learned a lot about racial prejudices...We are going to share a lot of info with our school."

"This is still a big issue. It is surprising what a human can do to another human. You guys are doing a great job - keep up the work."

"I can take what I learned today and make a difference starting in my community."

"What I engaged in with this forum should be presented at schools. The debate allowed me to open up to many different issues and fostered a lot of different ideas. It did allow me to think differently than I would."

To see the students participating in the Forum, please visit our photo gallery.

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Elaine Gross
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