A Tennessee middle school principal is apologizing after she announced her school’s Black History Month theme would be “All Lives Matter.”
In a letter sent out to parents on Sunday (January 31), East Ridge Middle School in Chattanooga announced the theme, which angered some parents. Jessica Arnold, who’s daughter is enrolled at the school, says she discussed her concerns with principal Christy Caldwell Drake.
“Whoever thought that was a good idea really just has refused to think critically about this or (is) willfully ignorant about it or just doesn’t want to educate themselves about it, and that disturbs me from the educators of my children,” Arnold said to WRCB.
Drake issued an apology on Monday, claiming her inspiration for the theme was a mural in the school which says “Where Every Child Matters.”
“I want to apologize for not more fully considering the context of that theme,” she wrote in a letter that was sent to families. “As a Black woman in leadership, I embrace civil rights, Black History Month and the sacrifices that have been made by those who came before me. I hope that my students, many of whom look like me, believe in the possibilities of their unlimited potential.”
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Drake said her father was a local pastor and civil rights leader and that both of her parents were educators.
“I had the opportunity to experience firsthand the fight for equality,” she wrote in the statement, according to CNN.
“All Lives Matter” is commonly known as a phrase to quell the specific nature of the phrase and movement Black Lives Matter, which seeks to amplify the injustices of police violence, racial inequality and more.
Cody Patterson, Hamilton County Schools spokesman, told CNN Drake has apologized and removed the theme. “If you read her apology letter, you’ll kind of see her heart,” Patterson said.
He added that the district has not made a specific theme for Black History Month.
“We’re recognizing and celebrating the sacrifices made by so many Black Americans,” he said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, 71.1 percent of the school’s students are Black, Latinx or Native American.