ALAMO HEIGHTS — A coalition of past and present Alamo Heights High School students are pushing for reforms to create more tolerance and equality on campus.
In the latest effort, more than 100 activists gathered July 23 outside the school to denounce racism. They marched from a Lincoln Heights retail center south on Broadway to the school, held the rally, and then marched back.
Some also have organized an online petition asking the Alamo Heights Independent School District board to amend existing policies by adding stronger enforcement against hate speech.
The protesters included members of Young Ambitious Activists, an organization that arranged numerous anti-racism and anti-police brutality rallies in San Antonio since George Floyd, a Black man from Houston, was killed by Minneapolis police in late May.
Hundreds of similar protests have since taken place nationwide and abroad.
On July 23, speakers in front of the school addressed the crowd before the march began.
Sky Ervin, a senior at the school, recalled being called all sorts of names on her first day as a freshman — just for being Black.
Coming from a more diverse middle school at the time, the attitudes Ervin encountered at the high school left her dumbfounded, she said. Ervin returned home, crying and asking her mother why such hurtful things were said.
“My mom told me to go out there, ‘Voice your voice,’” Ervin said.
She added today’s young people of color still face hate and stereotypes. Ervin has attended many local protests this summer, but her frustration with inaction and ignorance has not waned, she said.
“I’m tired of getting in trouble for the things that I cannot control.”
The high school has garnered much attention in recent weeks after the circulation of a social media video in which a trio of Anglo girls bring up race. One of them uttered a racial epithet.
Alamo Heights Independent School District officials said they condemn racism and intolerance in any form.
“Racial slurs and the posting of racial slurs online is absolutely unacceptable,” AHISD stated on a social-media post. “Students who have engaged in such acts have received consequences, as will students who engage in such acts in the future.”
Magoli Garcia, Kenzie Hervey and Hanah Shields, all recent AHHS graduates, are working together to help current and future students — and the wider community — confront racism.
They are collecting signatures for an online petition to be presented to the AHISD board. They are calling for repercussions and protocols in cases where a student uses slurs in or out of the classroom.
By late July, organizers were closing a gap to get 3,000 signatures.
Shields, who is half-Anglo, half-Asian, told listener she felt like a “commodity” and “unsafe” when she was a student.
“I know I’m not alone in that feeling,” she told the crowd.
Shields also said learners of color, LGBTQ pupils and other marginalized youngsters do not feel empowered despite the district’s philosophy of trying to help all students reach their full potential.
“We are not seeing compassion or character from our peers,” Shields added.
Garcia said her parents came to the United States to give their children a better life.
“Even being in the best school district couldn’t hide us from the injustices,” Garcia added.
Hervey said the show of support July 23 at the high school proved she and fellow petitioners are on the right track.
“Seeing all of you guys shows me that I am not (alone) and that I can push forward for my community and for myself,” Hervey said.
Other supporters told the crowd to understand hate and prejudice are prevalent, and this is their time to help enlighten others.
“I’m right there with you because I’ve experienced it firsthand,” said Billie Billington, who added she encountered intolerance while serving in the military.
“I’m 70. I have been going through racism for a long time, and what you’re doing is the right thing,” said James Brown.