Former students, parents share experiences of racism within Winona Area Public Schools

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT)– Former Winona Area Public Schools students are sharing their own experiences of systemic racism in the district.

On Saturday afternoon, more than 100 protesters gathered at the Winona Senior High School before taking off toward an intersection by Winona Mall. They carried signs showing their support for black students and people of color in the community.

The goal of the demonstration is to draw attention to what was described as a culture of racism. The event’s organizer also said they want the district to take officers of schools and use those resources to hire counselors and liaisons of color to support other BIPOC.

“It’s not so much that we’re trying to bring light that there ‘can be’ systemic racism there. Public schools function on systemic racism. So the point is what are they going to do to actually address and change that within system. And I think that starts with getting police out of schools,” said Tova Strange, one of the event organizers.

After the march, former students shared stories of when they felt unfairly targeted because to their race while in school. Speakers talked about the overt-racism or microaggressions they’ve experienced. A microaggression can be a behavior or message that is either intentionally or unintentionally derogatory or otherwise insulting.

“To the coach who nagged me for weeks to join the basketball team after I made it clear I was not interested– just because I am tall and black does not mean I’m good at sports and it does not mean I want to play them. Black students are more than just athletes to add to your hall of fame,” said one speaker, during the event.

During the rally, organizers passed around information about how people can contact their school board representative. That way they could have a conversation with them about their concerns.