By Lisa Young

Staff writer

Nearly every public meeting or sporting event in America begins with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The end of the pledge rings out with the familiar words, “with liberty and justice for all.”

Justice is what Marisa Edmondson and Jordan Evans want for every single student and faculty member in the Delta County School District. Their cry isn’t just for students who identify as black, indigenous or people of color. It also includes every minority voice in the valley.

The two former Paonia High School students bravely confronted what they call a “culture of racism” by requesting that Delta County Schools introduce anti-racist material to the curriculum while promoting a safe learning environment for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students.

They were not alone.

On this Back Page feature you will see masked faces holding handwritten signs calling for change. You will see young children, mature adults, students, parents, former school board members, activists and onlookers. You will see them, but you will not hear them. If you could, you would hear cries of “our children matter,” “our voices matter” and “listen to our children.”

Any path toward change is a difficult one. It requires acknowledging that a problem exists, the willingness to hear opposing viewpoints and painful criticism of the way things have been.

After a disappointing pre-meeting with several district officials in which Edmondson and Evans felt they weren’t being heard, they found vindication as Jan Tuin, school board president read a statement addressing the issue of racism at Delta County Schools. The school board vowed to do better, to be better and to make changes to school policy.

It’s only the beginning for racial justice in the district. Edmondson and Evans plan to work alongside the school district over the following months as they hope to implement change through education.

As you view these photos, think about the other voices in the valley crying out for justice. Do you see their faces? Do you hear their voices? And will you support the color of justice, whatever it may be?

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