“March Against the 1776” Ends In Speeches at School Board Meeting

Noah Gilbert and Tatum Bremner

On Monday, November 22, 2021, community members, parents and students attended the “March Against the 1776.” Participants gathered at the Johnston Community Library at 5 pm where organizers Esha Bolar ’23 and Waverly Zhao ’23 gave a speech on why the march was organized. “Protest is patriotic, and seeing the flaws in our system and acting on them or wishing for the betterment of your community, this is patriotism at its finest,” said Bolar. “We are here because we care.”

During the board meeting, protesters held up signs and spoke. “How is attacking BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) stories, on the very people who contribute so much to this nation, honest or patriotic?” said Waverly Zhao ’23, one of the co-organizers of the protest. “How will we ever love this country if we can not even admit to our mistakes and atrocities and the degree to which they were practiced?” Anita Dinakar ’23 also spoke at the meeting. “Deb Davis, Clint Evans, and Derek Tidball, by signing this pledge, you are being racist,” Dinakar said. “I hope you show the same maturity as Johnston students and denounce your signature of the 1776 Pledge.” 

Though 1776 protesters were the majority of those in attendance, people spoke in support of the 1776 pledge and of eliminating Critical Race Theory (CRT). “CRT is in direct opposition to western values of merit, equality, rationalism, constitutional law, and individualism,” said community member Peter Armstrong. “It is destructive and does not belong in the schools.”  Another community member, Mike Long, said, “The job of a school is to educate, not to indoctrinate.” Long went on to say he does not suggest that teachers or elected school board officials are pushing these agendas on purpose, but it still occurs in the schools. “This is something [the 1776 pledge] we should all come together on… We should be thankful that people believe in God quite frankly, but even if you don’t, at least we’re not pushing our agenda in the schools,” Long said. 

The newly elected school board members did not officially renounce the pledge during this meeting. The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for December 13, 2021 but they will have a special meeting early next week.