These Two Students Fought Their School's Racism — and Won

Mar 29, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. ET
Image: Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe Via Getty Images

The Boston Globe named their 2016 Bostonians of the Year last December — and this year, they’re not even old enough to have a drink to celebrate it.

When Boston Latin School students Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau reported in 2014 that their peers were flinging racist threats and insults at the school’s black students, as well as tweeting racially insensitive responses to the death of Michael Brown, the administration did nothing.

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“We were like, ‘We shouldn’t have to go through this, like, why are we so stressed?’ Our school should support us, they shouldn’t make us feel like we’re [dispensable,]” Webster-Cazeau told Temple University’s The Temple News.

After a year and a half of no administrative action, Noel and Webster-Cazeau created #BlackatBLS, a campaign meant to highlight the anti-black racism students faced regularly at the school, in January 2016. Their first move was to make a #BlackatBLS YouTube video, which inspired other black students to share their experiences on Twitter using the hashtag.

#BlackatBLS, along with a student’s report that a teacher greeted her with a racial slur in class, spurred an investigation led by the Boston Public Schools and the resignation of the school’s headmaster in June. Last week, they appointed Rachel Skerritt as the new headmaster — the first person of color to lead the country’s oldest high school.

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Due to the school — and citywide change the two have helped enact — Noel and Webster-Cazeau were named the Bostonians of the Year and received recognition from the Harvard College Women’s Center.

“It kind of felt surreal,” Webster-Cazeau said. “It was this thing that blew up and everyone kept texting and calling and congratulating me, but it never really felt real.”

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