Renewing our commitment to racial justice

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black Americans by law enforcement and private citizens, are a continuation of our nation’s 400 year history of enslaving, terrorizing, and discriminating against Black Americans. Real, enduring change is centuries overdue, and it is our responsibility to commit to end this racism and violence.

Each of us has a responsibility to intervene in systems of oppression and discrimination, and there are many ways in which to do so. One of the most important ways is to free students and educators to transform schools into places of learning and activism that break the cycle of racism. We believe that positive change comes from young people who have a chance to wonder about, plan, and work for a more just world. Young people need safe and supportive spaces with educators who are free and committed to help them figure out the way forward. Loudoun School for Advanced Studies (“LSAS”) is one of those spaces.

LSAS was founded so that students and teachers could study and have open conversations about the most important and difficult social and political problems. When students can work on content and issues that are timely, personally relevant, and essential, they are inspired to work for social justice and positive social change. We invite students to challenge themselves and their teachers, to ask hard questions, to hear from those who will challenge the status quo, and to engage in civic action. LSAS exists to equip students to build a better world.

We aim to introduce our students to the best content and conversations around the most important questions and issues, so that they are able to engage with the questions and issues they will face as voters, taxpayers, and agents of change. In class, we have read books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, and The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. We have invited speakers working against mass incarceration and for social justice. Our field trips have included visits to historical sites, museums, and artistic performances that focus on the African American experience.

In the coming year, we will be reading How to Be Anti-Racist and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibrahim X. Kendi, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and a range of other works from authors who are not white males.

When we were choosing a site for our new campus, we chose to build in the shadow of the Historic Ashburn Colored School, so that our students know this nation’s history and are inspired to work for a more just and inclusive nation. When the historic schoolhouse was vandalized, our students led efforts to restore it, and invited the community to work together to undo the harm.

The most recent violence against African Americans renews our commitment as educators to engage our students in open, honest discussions and investigations into our most pressing social issues, so that, as a community, we at Loudoun School for Advanced Studies can learn and work for justice.