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Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Virtual Visit with High School Students

Nearly 100 people from Ida B. Wells High School, Franklin High School, and Roosevelt High School attended Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s virtual author visit on February 17th. Dr. Kendi spoke to students and educators over Zoom about his book How to Be an Anti-Racist, how students can make an impact on their communities, and how racist ideas are constructed and spread.

Dr. Kendi speaking with a student

A student from Ida B. Wells High School asked Dr. Kendi about what they could do in their daily life to be anti-racist.

“You can figure out, what do you really have to give?” Dr. Kendi said. “Do you have time in which you can volunteer for a local racial justice organization? Do you have a form of expertise? Do you have resources you can donate? Whether you’re white or whether you’re a person of color, we have to think about what we have to give.”

Attendees from three schools on the Zoom call with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Dr. Kendi said that it inspires him that a school in Portland is named after investigative journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells. “Every time I hear about a student being able to go to Ida B. Wells, I’m just so jealous, so shoutout Portland.”

A student from Roosevelt HS asked Dr. Kendi, “What do you most want people to take away from your books?”

“That the racial groups are equals–systemic racism is the problem, not people,” Dr. Kendi said. “People would realize the ways into we are collectively fooled into thinking skin color is more meaningful than the color of the shirts that we’re wearing.”

When asked about his plans for the future, Dr. Kendi said, “I’m going to fight for a better world for me and my family, for people who look like me and don’t look like me.”

Thank you to our partners at Ida B. Wells HS, Roosevelt HS, and Franklin HS who made this event possible. In particular, thanks to Betsy Tighe, Ayn Frazee, Cassie Lanzas, Principal KD Parman, Principal Filip Hristić, and Principal Chris Frazier. Thanks to our Literary Arts staff and especially Olivia Jones-Hall for her work coordinating this visit.

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