Students Protest Racial Inequality and Walk Out

Approved protest organized by the Iowa Freedom Riders and ICCSD Black Student Unions takes place with students from all Iowa City high schools.


Araminta Siegling

Students walk out of City High to participate in protest.

After 6th hour, students from three Iowa City schools walked out of class to participate in an approved protest, organized by the ICCSD Black Student Union and the Iowa Freedom Riders. West High’s Black Student Union sent this statement to the district in an email.

“The goal of tomorrow’s planned protest is to bring the three high schools together to inform them of the conversations had with the district administration and equity department so we all know what steps are in place to move forward. We also would like to publicize our demands, promote Black Student Unions to ensure that every school has an opportunity to start their own. Students will be able to speak about their experiences so we can create a collective message of what has been happening in the district and let black students know they’re not alone and we are here for each other,” West High’s Black Student Union.

Organizer Naeji Washington ’22 holds a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the school’s lobby. (Araminta Siegling)

City High’s walkout was led by Naeji Washington ‘22, who is hoping to have a Black Student Union similar to West High’s. 

“I’m hoping to bring the BSU back to City, and get some open-minded people willing to get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” Washington said.

West High’s Nisreen Elgaali ‘22, Co-President of the ICCSD Black Student Union, was a leader in organizing Friday’s protest alongside the Iowa Freedom Riders, and other members of the Black Student Union also referred to as BSU.

“Our motive is to have our voices heard, our voices have barely been heard in school, we need them to be heard in our community, we want schools to be safe for anything black, anything brown, anything queer, anything minority, for everybody that can’t be heard,” Elgaali said.

Elgaali alongside her peers wanted to organize a walkout after experiencing and noticing injustices throughout their community and school.

“We chose to do that walkout to send a message to teachers and the school, walking out of the teachers’ classes will force them to acknowledge what’s happening,” Elgaali stated. 

Students at West, including the Black Student Union, and the Iowa Freedom Riders used social media to spread the word about the protest. Even coordinating a bus from Liberty High School to the meeting location. 

After students walked out of the three schools, organizers of the protest planned for them to meet at the Old Capitol. 

”The Iowa Freedom Riders set up a couple of mics for everyone to speak and share their stories. We want everyone to be heard, not just the leaders,” Elgaali said. 

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