By Rob DiRienzo
KENNESAW, Ga. – A Kennesaw high school has become the center of controversy after the principal told students a “Black Lives Matter” display had to come down.
Students at Kennesaw Mountain High School said they came up with the idea in class one day to honor the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black people that have died in police encounters.
They put up a display on their classroom door at the beginning of February to commemorate Black History Month.
Last week, Principal Nathan Stark told them, they said.
Eleventh grader Christopher Bryant-Beasley, who is Black, said he was surprised.
“I take a very personal because you know, I could wake up tomorrow go out tomorrow somewhere and the same thing that happened to George Floyd could happen to me,” Bryant-Beasley said.
The door has the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Their Names” in yellow construction paper cut-out letters. In addition to portraits of Taylor and Floyd, it has the names of dozens of others who have died in police encounters.
“We were just all confused, like why should we take it down, what’s the main reason you want us to take it down?” Bryant-Beasley said.
Ninth-grader Jariyah Butler, 15, said students of all races showed their support for the message and helped create the display.
“It wasn’t just the Black students that made the door, all types of races made that door,” Butler said. “It showed that actual people care about us and they believe in the message that Black lives matter.”
Stark did not respond to FOX 5’s request for comment.
However, the Cobb County School District appears to support his decision to make them remove the display.
“Objectivity, balanced points of view, and not identifying personal positions on controversial issues is part of Board policy,” said a spokesperson for the district, who did not wish to be identified by name. “Board policy provides guidelines for Cobb students and staff to teach and learn about controversial issues and directs teachers to use classrooms to teach, not influence students towards any side of any political or partisan issue.”
Butler argues that the matter goes beyond politics.
“Black lives matter is not a political thing, it’s a statement – like that’s what everyone should believe,” she said. “There was a presidential election and nobody voted for anybody because they said Black lives matter, they voted for them because of other situations and other preferences.”
The 15-year-old said that she wishes the principal approached the situation differently.
“I feel like they could’ve handled it different, like maybe talk to us or get our opinion on it more than just say, ‘this is what’s going to happen and this is what it is,’” Butler said. “I don’t think they necessarily had the full aspect of what we were doing.”
The two students also wondered why the principal waited until the end of the school year to make them take it down.
According to them, Stark never said who exactly was offended by the display.
“We didn’t do it just to like, throw it in somebody’s face, it was just like we’re showing we’re here too,” Bryant-Beasley said.