ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- At School No. 4 on Friday, there were lessons on black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., and an assembly featuring spoken word and musical performances, including a school graduate who’s become a nationally-televised professional singer.
“When you set your goals, make them," said Qwanell “Q” Mosley. "And anything’s possible, as long as you put your education first.”
Organizers say setting goals and building self-worth is exactly what the program is designed to help these young children do.
“A lot of times the inner-city youth, they don’t have a lot of opportunities that a lot of other kids will have," said Jalen Smith of Rochester. "And today to show them that they are the future and they can make a change in the society and the community we live in, is a great thing. We’re inspiring children today.”
Some of those children say they understand the value of today’s lessons.
“To shine the light on it, to let people know that it’s still a thing, that everybody’s lives matter," said student council leader Beautiful Ford of Rochester.
They acknowledge that critics associate the Black Lives Matter with anti-police sentiment, but they encourage students to consider positive outlets for anger they may have about injustices.
“They bring a lot of that sometimes into the schools, and sometimes it does anger them with things that are happening outside," said Assistant Principal Delores Davis. "So sometimes we do have those hard conversations, because when things like that happen they are angry and they want to do angry things back. So it opens up a segue to talk about, ‘What are the right things to do? What are some positive things to do?’”
The Black Lives Matter movement is causing some controversy, but that’s exactly why officials here at School Number 4 say it should be in the lesson plans.
“It’s that elephant in the room,, but it’s time we start moving that elephant away," said Principal Karon Jackson. "It makes people uncomfortable when they start to hear about Black Lives Matter and everything. But it’s time. It’s time that all districts and everyone, not just in Rochester but across the nation, we should be doing this, because in order for us to come together, we’ve really got to have those difficult conversations.”
Administrators say they hope to have future lessons on the subject incorporating parents and community members.
“We want to bring support not just to black lives," Jackson said. "But we’ve got to get them to understand that we’re not standing alone. That everyone is willing to work to support to bring us all together.”