EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF) – East Ridge Middle School principal, Christy Drake, is facing major backlash after declaring the theme for the school’s Black History Month celebration to be “All Lives Matter”.
Many see the term as reactionary and seeking to discount efforts to bring greater awareness to specific modern and historic injustices toward the Black community.
And after the protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd this summer, the issue has become increasingly polarizing.
But Drake, who is a Black woman, said she meant only to highlight a phrase from a mural that shows the diversity of the school.
Drake has since issued an apology email to parents, saying the following:
“I want to apologize for not more fully considering the context of that theme, as my inspiration for it was taken from a mural within our school that states ‘Where Every Child Matters.’ 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.”
Tricia Harris, a senior aide for civil rights leader Andrew Young, says that many are missing the point of what Black Lives Matter really means.
“The whole point in saying Black Lives Matter is that in order for all lives to matter, black lives must matter. We must value them the same, we must have equity in our justice system, that we must be reflective of who we are as a nation,” says Harris.
She says that the phrase overall has been misconstrued.
“But unfortunately in this climate, we went from black lives matter, to blue lives matter, to some people in our community feeling like to say black lives matter somehow insinuates that all lives don’t matter,” she says.
I spoke with multiple parents outside East Ridge Middle and while none of them wanted to appear on camera, they all said that Principal Drake’s intent was to convey a message of unity.
This sentiment was also expressed by Harris.
“I don’t believe in this instance it was her intent, it was the school’s intent to demean the movement as a whole. I really think she was just trying to be inclusive and not really consider the connotation of all lives matter and how it’s been used,” Harris says.
There is no word yet on what the new theme for the school will be.