|Ella Barnes. Courtesy: Rudy Garns|
Before Highlands High School had air conditioning and smart boards and computers it had strict dress codes and really hot classrooms. Really hot.
In the late 1980s, a group of boys wanted to wear shorts to school to be more comfortable but the dress code did not allow it. Their pleas were ignored so they devised a clever way to draw attention to the issue. You see, skirts were allowed. So a group of boys wore skirts to school to protest the rule.
They alerted the media to their plan. They gathered on the street prior to entering the building. There was a bit of an uproar but the rules changed and boys could wear shorts. Their protest worked.
If the boys continued to follow the existing guidelines they were unlikely to change anything. The system was so rigid that it wasn’t working to help the students it served. Leadership wasn’t really listening to the concerns. Bold action and media exposure got attention and the rules changed. Protest happens when the lines of communication collapse. We hear but we don’t listen.
This may seem like a humorous event but it is seriously steeped in American tradition. We have a long history of protest in our country beginning with the Boston Tea Party and continuing to today.
So I wasn’t surprised to see a march in Fort Thomas this past weekend in support of minorities in our community. The organizer, Ella Barnes, is a 2020 Highlands graduate felt moved to action. She expressed all of the passion and concern for her home as patriots of our past.
|Courtesy: Kelly 'Sloan' Flairty|
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She was aware that the march might draw opposition. She says, “There will always be haters. There will always be people who do not believe in what you are fighting for and why you are fighting so hard. Jesus only had about 12 followers in the beginning but now he has about 2.3 billion. MLK started with a citywide bus boycott and ended up with over 200,000 followers marching with him in Washington D.C. Everyone must start somewhere no matter how big or small. I as a white person will never know the fear of being black in America, but I do know that me and the rest of Fort Thomas have the privilege to stand up and fight with them to ensure they receive respect and justice.”
Governor Beshear regularly tells Kentucky residents that, “We are in this together.”
When we stand together in support of our fellow citizens we exemplify a higher moral degree and Kentucky’s state motto - “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
We are better together than apart.