BY JACK WILLEY
LAKEVILLE, Minnesota - A racial slur was bleached into the grass at Lakeville High School on June 3. The epithet, "Die N---- --," stretched over fifteen feet on the lawn between the student parking lot and the school entrance. It was the second major incident this school year at Lakeville, a suburb of the Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The next night, a group of students came together to discuss the incident and organized a purple ribbon campaign in protest. On the final two days of class, hundreds of the 1,200 students at Lakeville wore purple ribbons, condemning the attack.
Some of the 12 Black students who go to school here, their parents, and friends called on the newspapers, radio, TV stations and elected officials to denounce the incident.
After learning about the incident on the news the night before, Jennifer Benton, Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Congress, Michael Pennock, and myself went to Lakeville in solidarity with those taking a stand against the attack and brought to them the socialist election campaign.
Many students expressed outrage at the racial incident.
"I'm upset at what is happening. I find this pathetic that people have nothing better to do. At the beginning of the school year, somebody wrote on the windows, Go home N------ . We were angry, but we were told the administration would take action. Now it just happened again and many of us knew something had to be done," stated Sabrina Kirkpatrick, one of the Black students who helped initiate the purple ribbon campaign.
Another student said, "Next year's going to be different because we are not going to stand for any of this," pointing to the area where the racial slur was bleached.
The incident has further polarized the school. Some students refused to wear a purple ribbon. Two students said they heard about the incident on the news, but did not know what happened and did not really care. As we campaigned at the school entrance, two other students about a hundred feet away carried a large confederate flag from the bed of their truck and set it in the front seat. It was clear from the stream of purple ribbons pouring out of the school, however, that the racists are a tiny minority.
YS campaigns at high schools
Once a week for the final three weeks of class, Young Socialists went to South High, a school of 1,800 in South Minneapolis, with the Socialist Workers election campaign. We were greeted with a warm response and great deal of interest.
YS campaigns at high schools
One of the hot topics on peoples' minds is the statement by President Clinton that he will support a nationwide curfew for people under 17.
"They treat us like we're a bunch of criminals. Our school is built like a fortress, with no windows to even see outside, they have guards, some with guns, walking through the hallways and now Clinton wants a curfew. What's going on?" asked a sophomore student.
When I mentioned the curfew issue to another group of students, one remarked, "The Democrats and Republicans, they are all the same. Clinton just signed a new antiterrorism bill and now he wants to go after gays and put up curfews."
Another student, when she saw a young socialist with the Militant, ran up and said, "My friend just showed me that paper, I want it!" She was excited to hear that there is an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. A couple students I met are studying Russian history and want to go on the U.S.-Cuba Youth Exchange. In fact, there was a great deal of interest in Cuba among several students. A few took applications for the Youth Exchange to read over.
In total, fifteen students signed up to campaign with Young Socialists for Harris and Garza or for more information about the campaign. We sold four new issues of the Militant, two back issues, and got dozens of campaign brochures in students' hands. In addition, we received several small contributions toward the campaign and a couple students gave us the names of teachers to look up in the fall to get classroom speaking engagements for our candidates.
Jack Willey is a member of the Young Socialists in St. Paul,
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