Students walk out to protest racist events at the high school



Students walked out on March 16 at 11 a.m. to protest responses by school administration towards recent racist events. Jaelyn Onuoha addressed the crowd of students, teachers and staff.

In reaction to the recent racist incidents at the high school, students organized a walkout protesting the administration’s response. The demonstration followed the circulation of a recent controversial TikTok video and took place on March 16 at 11 a.m. during D-block.

The TikTok video rapidly spread among the student body on March 15. Within the next twenty four hours, a group of students organized a school-wide walkout. On March 16 at 11 a.m., several hundreds of students gathered with teachers and staff outside the STEM wing. Student organizers spoke to the crowd demanding apologies from administrators and speaking about their experience with racism at the high school.

Freshman Jaelyn Onuoha, who shares an honors English class with the person who created the TikTok video, spoke about her experience being pulled out of her English class to speak with administrators.

“Yesterday [March 15], I was taken out of C and D-block. The day before, on Monday, when the event sparked, I was taken out of G-block,” Onuoha said. “They asked us about what consequences we felt would be equitable for the racist student in the video. We were told that that student was going through a lot and needed our support.”

Jacquovia Higgs, a junior who attended the walkout, said the walkout represented more than only the response to the recent video.

“There’s been a repeated response from the administration to racism at this school that is completely inappropriate. They spend too much time protecting ignorance rather than protecting students of color,” Higgs said. “I hope the administration understands the frustration from the student population. It’s not just students of color that are mad about what is happening at this school, it is all of us because this affects all of this.”


Sophomore Nyla Sullivan, who also spoke at and organized the walkout, said the school community is not inclusive to all voices.

“This school says that we create the community we want. This isn’t a community that we want, this is a community that we allow. We do not want to be in a school community that includes students that display racist stereotypes towards the Black community,” Sullivan said. “We do not want to be in a school community that silences Black voices when we try to speak out about how we’re feeling.”

Sullivan said students have not received the justice they deserve.

“These instances are not freedom of speech, these are simply hate crimes. I will not stop fighting for my community until we get the justice we deserve,” Sullivan said.

In his speech to the crowd, freshman Nathan Lopes De Carvalho, one of the walkout’s organizers, called for an apology from administrators for their inadequate responses to recent acts of racism.

“You know the actions that you have committed and you need to step up and apologize. Now, all I want is at least one dean to apologize and I am looking straight at your face right now so please do it,” Lopes De Carvalho said. “I’ve seen racism in Brookline my entire life, and I’ve experienced it since kindergarten. This will never end if none of us combine together to stop this.”

In response to several demands for an apology from the administration, Interim Dean Brendan Kobus, Dean Jenny Longmire, and Head of School Anthony Meyer walked up to the top of the steps and apologized in front of the crowd.

Meyer said students of color should not feel the pressures and responsibilities they currently do and should be able to focus on their education rather than handling recent incidents at the school.

“There is plenty of work to do and that starts with me and my administrative team and I feel that our students of color feel way too much responsibility with issues and incidents like this. I want to make it super clear that this is not how it should be and that is not how I want you to feel and that is not how you should feel,” Meyer said. “I want you to be able to focus on your education and there is a ton of work to do. I appreciate our students for organizing this rally.”

Brookline parent and paraprofessional Lindsay Linton also spoke at the walkout and said the school administration needs to improve its support for students.

“At my age, we did not have to come out here and make a stand for all of our friends. It was already done by the administration, it was done by your teachers, it was done by the people that are meant to support you on a daily basis no matter what happens. No matter what you all are going through, you are supposed to have full support,” Linton said. “To the administration, if you see these students on the street, don’t expect them to help you if you are going to turn your back to them. If I am going to have my daughter be raised in this high school, you best believe that I am going to make sure that she is going to be raised with love and support.”

Meyer declined an interview with The Sagamore and responded with the following statement.

“I applaud and am grateful for students who powerfully advocated for change within BHS and our school community today. I support their efforts to express their concerns and beliefs and deeply appreciate the moving rally they organized today,” Meyer wrote. “Brookline High School and the Public Schools of Brookline have taken and are continuing to take important steps to address issues of student safety, belonging and inclusion—particularly with and for our students of color. However, it is clearly not enough. I am focused on sharing next steps toward fostering the anti-racist, anti-bias culture and community all of our students need and deserve.”

The evening following the walkout, Meyer wrote an email to students discussing the student-led walkout along with its immediate and long-term impact.

During his apology from the walkout, Kobus said the administration’s actions were intended to, but failed to, support students.

“What I would like to say about today and the events this week was it was really impactful hearing from students, particularly the ninth graders, who are in my care and I particularly care about,” Kobus said after the walkout. “I think it was really hard and important to hear about the impact of some of the moves we made to support students and that is feedback that is really important to have and that is something I will take and work hard to change in the future.”

Kobus refused to comment any further.

This is a developing story. Please check back here for more information and updates.