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Campus Statement on Killing of George Floyd and Police Brutality

To our Booker T. Washington HSPVA community-

Our nation and community are continuing to struggle with the events that have unfolded over these past weeks. It has been difficult to find the right words to address the heaviness of our hearts. The images of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, and many others in recent years are shocking to many of us. However, we must sadly acknowledge that these events are not shocking to many African-Americans and People of Color, as incidents like this have been a part of their lived experience for generations.  Many of our students and their families have taken to the streets to protest the continued indiscriminate and violent over-policing of minority communities.

Booker T Washington HSPVA began as the first African-American high school in Dallas.  We, as an institution, recognize our unique position in addressing the wrongs of racism, both in the past and in the  present. Today, we strive to be a school that celebrate its roots, admits and addresses its wrongs,  and stands on the shoulders of the giants that made education possible for generations of students.  We stand with you.

As a school, we are guided by a mission that states that we are Dallas’ revolutionary high school for 21st century artists.  We are called to a vision that reminds us that we are a home to the young artists and thinkers who will write the next chapter of our society.  I have seen these attributes play out this week in the citizen artists that I am proud to call my students.  It is your voices that need to be heard as we collectively seek to truly change the racism, hatred, and violence that is ravaging our country.

Our school stands on its core values.  We celebrate and cultivate diversity, nurture our community, embrace risk-taking, and ignite joy through relationships and artistic expression.  All of this with the goal of transforming our society.  As Booker T. Washington once said, “We all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness, and selfishness.”  It is time for all of us to take a stand against the injustices that surround us.  Shaking our heads about what is happening and posting anti-racist quotes on social media isn’t enough.  As principal, I acknowledge that this work starts with me. We must be committed to not just fighting racism,  but to growing as anti-racists at every level and in every aspect of our school.  I am calling on all of us to do the work that is necessary to more fully embody anti-racism.

In recent years, the BTW family has engaged in dialogue on understanding, exposing, and combatting racism on our campus and beyond. We have had difficult and uncomfortable conversations about the racism that exists in our world and how we can actively work towards the tenets of anti-racism. We are committed to continuing this work and inviting more voices into the conversation. We affirm that not only will we continue to do the work necessary, but we will also continue to be vocal and intentional when it comes to speaking out against racism in all of its forms, especially within our own walls. We commit to broadening our professional development to include Black and other POC voices. We commit to listening to and acting upon the cries of the marginalized that may be in our school family.  We must all be part of the chorus and answer the call to build a new way forward.

Together, we will focus our efforts to create new opportunities and to change lives for the better.  As we face these societal challenges head-on, please remember to stay safe and healthy in the midst of this pandemic by wearing your mask and practicing social distancing.  And while we may be apart for the moment, always remember that it is the legacy and promise of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts that will always bind us together. 


Scott M. Rudes, Ph.D.