Students join local Black Lives Matter marches

Black Lives Matter march through downtown Ardmore, June 7, 2020 – Matthew Schwartz ’21

    With the outcry against social injustice growing louder and louder, recent graduates from Penn Charter took matters into their own hands to organize a Youth For Black Lives protest through Center City.

     Among the students that marched on August 2, 2020 were three current Diversity Alliance leaders: Sixth Former Kethan Srinivasan, Sixth Former Ryan Ngo, Fifth Former Quinn Luong, and Fords alum Jackson Overton-Clark ’19. 

     For Ngo, this was the time to take a stand.

     “I saw this as an opportunity to represent the school and stand up for what’s right,” Ngo said. “I was tired of watching my black peers be silenced by systemic inequality, systemic disadvantages, and racism.”

     Describing the experience as “very powerful,” Ngo said, “Marching down the Ben Franklin Parkway with my Haverford brothers and other students from the Inter-Ac was unifying.”

Philly Youth for Black Lives march moves toward City Hall – Quinn Luong ’22

     Luong had a similar message. 

     “I knew I had to show up on behalf of Haverford students and stand up for what is right. I’m extremely glad I participated; the energy and unity through the messages of the march were incredible. The experience of standing in solidarity with so many other students was more than words can describe,” Luong said.

    “There hasn’t been much student involvement when it comes to independent schools around the Main Line, so I definitely felt the need to step up and give voice to the situation in hand,” Srinivasan said. “The march was pleasant and peaceful. It was organized in a way that it would be an orderly opposition towards the standard sentiment of police brutality on the outside and lack of proper accountability regarding black equity on the inside, and the Penn Charter students did this admirably.”

     While this march was an act of allyship, more importantly, it was also an opportunity for learning and reflection. 

     “As a leader, the march shifted my perspective on how I can tackle the challenge of bridging the gap between people of color and the administration,” Ngo said. “There’s still much that needs to be done. Our school community needs to be reshaped. We have a lot of work to do, but I know this group of upper schoolers is strong and capable.”

     Luong also emphasized that change needs to come within the Haverford community.

     “Marching is great for allyship, but I believe we have to change the systems in place within our community, including administration, students, and culture,” Luong said. 

Kethan Srinivasan ’21 speaks during the Youth for Black Lives March, August 2, 2020 – Quinn Luong ’22

      Srinivasan has already taken action on his own. 

      “I’m part of a movement called With the Vote that encourages Gen-Z and college students to talk about social, political, and economic issues, and most importantly, getting registered to vote.” 

      Srinivasan further emphasized the importance of voting. 

      “Ultimately, all these issues stem from people that are elected to power,” Srinivasan said. “It is imperative that people know how to vote if they can and that they find a way to get to the polls as safely as possible.”

     The leaders also had some words of encouragement for those who are looking to make a difference. 

     “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” Ngo said. “You can always find someone to talk to or someone you can glean from in any sort of circumstances,” Srinivasan added. 

     Luong said, “The Diversity Alliance is fighting for you. It is a space where you can share your thoughts and experience. I highly encourage you to reach out.”