St. Francis Student Graduation Threatened For Wearing BLM T-Shirt
On Wednesday May 26th 2021 NSM attended a protest in Wauwatosa Wisconsin bringing awareness to Mayor McBride telling a constituent to “Go To Hell” when confronted about racial disparities within Wauwatosa. The video has gone viral on social media. The protest ended early when members of The People’s Revolution received word that a Black student at St. Francis High School was threatened to not be allowed to participate in his graduation for wearing a “Black Lives Matter” style t-shirt during a choir concert.
Tevin Humphrey a student at St. Francis High school in St. Francis WI was participating in his choir concert and decided to break school policy for “formal attire” and wear a t-shirt with the writing “Black Education + Lives + Voices Matter”. The t-shirt was pointed out by the choir director Dave Oestreich prior to the concert starting. Policy for St. Francis for their three formal events consisting of Prom, Music Concerts and Graduation requires students to dress in formal attire. Students were told they needed to wear a plain white shirt, dark pants and dark shoes. Principal Michael Lewandowski says he “needed to make a decision five minutes before the concert began on “policy.” When NSM asked why the threat of attending his graduation ceremony and not a detention for breaking policy, Lewandowski responded it was a decision that would set “precedent” for students during future events. Lewandowski admits he “probably made the wrong decision” during a video NSM captured during a scene that broke out in the parking lot when Lewandowski was confronted about attempting to withhold a black student’s graduation ceremony.
During the confrontation members of the choir including Lewandowski’s daughter stated that if Tevin was not allowed to participate in his graduation then they would not be participating either. Tevin states “this is the beginning of something”. He says “this may be policy for Lewandowski but life or death for another, people who look like me”. Tevin wants the policy changed so students can express themselves. Policies within school systems prevent students from self-expression including limited Black History. “We get one month. I’m Black every month, that doesn’t change”.
Lewandowski claims the decision had “nothing to do with the writing on the shirt or the student” but had to do with the school policy”. Tevin was given the choice to put on a plain white t-shirt or he may not be able to attend his graduation ceremony. A compromise was agreed and Tevin was eventually allowed to wear the t-shirt during the last song of the concert. He also stated to NSM that St. Francis does not have racial issues within the student body despite a Black Cudahy Police Officer who was at the school attending the event having a very different story about racial experiences his children have experienced at the school.
Lewandowski says there are “two programs set up within the school” a luncheon with Black students, himself and the school super intendant that discuss issues within the Black and Brown student body and how the school can better serve its “diverse students”. They also have a Renaissance Program that discusses the “general culture” within the school. Lewandowski states the school does have “harassment policies” regarding racial issues and targeting of Black and Brown students and does not tolerate racism of any kind within his school. He mentioned a situation 4yrs ago where students were using the term “Nigga” and those students were suspended because even in “friendly use” of the word it’s not tolerated in the school. He did not specify whether those students were Black or White.
During the confrontation in the parking lot, Lead Organizer for The People’s Revolution, Khalil Coleman asked Lewandowski how the situation regarding Tevin was going to be rectified and stated Tevin should be allowed to speak at his graduation. Lewandowski stated that he and Tevin “would have a conversation, and Coleman fired back with “I think we’re having a conversation right now Principal Mike”. Speaking to Lewandowski he agreed to allow Tevin to speak at graduation and that decision still stands. Tevin will have to submit his speech prior to graduation day.
A meeting is set up with Tevin and his aunt (legal guardian) to address issues with Tevin so the school can “grow and improve” according to Lewandowski. NSM is waiting to hear back on approval to interview students who are part of the schools programs, as well as a tour of the school and to be able to film the St. Francis Graduation Ceremony on June 10th.
This is an ongoing story and we will continue to update
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