For Immediate Release
Contact: Eddie Kurtz
In light of recent actions by the Newberg School Board to ban symbols of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ Pride, Carla “KC” Hanson, Democratic Party of Oregon Chair, and Dr. Rosa Colquitt, Democratic Party of Oregon Vice Chair and Black Caucus Chair, released the following statements:
“As someone who has long advocated for the rights of marginalized communities, I find it reprehensible that the Newberg School Board has decided to deny free speech rights to students who wish to express pride in their identities and to staff who wish to support them,” said Carla “KC” Hanson, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon. “At any age, the ability to publicly affirm your identity and find community with others who share your identity is vital to one’s mental health and personal growth. For the Newberg School Board to deny students the right to express something so fundamental is cruel, ignorant, and makes it clear that the four board members supporting this ban are more interested in playing politics than creating a safe learning environment where students can thrive.”
“Sadly, the 4-3 decision of the Newberg school board to ban PRIDE and Black Lives Matter symbols in Newberg schools reflects the culture wars across school boards in Oregon and nationally,” said Dr. Rosa Colquitt, Democratic Party of Oregon Vice Chair and Black Caucus Chair. “Not unlike a number of conservative states introducing bills to ban the teaching of critical race theory, right-wing school boards are intent on denying or even banning opportunities to offer students a more thorough and honest account of the nation’s true history of racial subjugation — this Newberg school decision feels like an overt attempt to put the post-George Floyd awakening back to sleep.”
Dr. Colquitt went on to say: “For self-described ‘free-speech advocates’ and ‘Save our Schools’ candidates, the Newberg School Board decision is the height of hypocrisy. It represents a clear effort to disallow discussions on the inequality of rights for Black Oregonians, all students of color, and for LGBTQ+ Oregonians. Oregon students in Newberg and ALL of our school districts must be given the ability to openly reflect on our country’s flawed history and present state of affairs, which includes understanding the greatness of historical movements like PRIDE and Black Lives Matter, and all of their accompanying symbolism.”
In closing, Dr. Colquitt emphasized that “students in the Newberg school district should not be subjected to a strategic policy to overtly discriminate against LGBTQ+ and students of color. Rather, they deserve cultural diversity and civil rights as a critical part of their education. Anything less is a denial of the true DEMOCRACY of all Oregon students!”
As Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus, Dr. Colquitt spoke with former Newberg School Board candidate Tai Harden-Moore, the only Black candidate in the May 2021 race. Harden-Moore expressed a strong belief that negative racial stereotypes played heavily in her campaign by opposing candidates, as well as some community members, who racistly painted her as “not a patriot.” Harden-Moore also indicated a serious concern, as both educator and parent, that some students in the Newberg School District may be afraid to attend classes, or even afraid to ask questions, if the banning policy goes into effect in a community clearly marked by school board disputes and racial division.