FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter to Roosevelt Union Free School District responding to a recent incident in which pictures of nooses were displayed on school property. The letter called for a swift response and clarified the school district’s obligations under federal civil rights law to provide an environment that allows for equal educational opportunities for all students.
Late last week, the public learned that a collage showing a set of nooses was discovered displayed inside Roosevelt Middle School, New York. The picture in question is a part of a larger collage showing the nooses pictured with the words “back to school necklaces” and “ha ha” and “yes.”
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a school that receives federal funding, has a responsibility to provide a learning environment that is nondiscriminatory. A violation of title VI may be found if the school if there is a racially hostile environment that interferes with students’ right to equal educational opportunities. The Lawyers’ Committee’s letter notes that, without proper context, the image or display of a noose can create a racially hostile environment.
“Federal courts have recognized the noose as one of the most vile symbols in
American history,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Given the deeply rooted
symbolism and history of the noose, nooses casually displayed without proper
context can create an atmosphere of fear and terror and give rise to a racially
hostile environment that interferes with learning opportunities.”
Because the Roosevelt Union Free School District is majority black and Latinx, the display of this racist and vile symbol is of particular concern.
You can read the full letter here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,
a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of
President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services
to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward
Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all,
particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community
development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
Derrick Robinson, Lawyers’ Committee, DRobinson@LawyersCommittee.org, 202-662-8317