Tri-state School Fighting Racism

Union County Middle School principal Jon Farley
Union County Middle School principal Jon Farley
Ashley Gillespie
Ashley Gillespie

Reporter: Jennifer Johnson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Union County, Kentucky schools are taking a stand against racism. At a recent school board meeting, school administrators admitted there was a problem with racial relations at Union County Middle School. School administrators say they haven't seen any major racial incidents, such as fights or violence. Instead, the problem is more with offensive clothing and language. But both the faculty and staff say none of it will be tolerated.

Union County Middle School Principal Jon Farley says, "We are long past the age where we differentiate based on color."

That's why Farley wants to provide more education for students who may not realize what they say or what they wear can be offensive.

Farley says, "For instance, the Confederate battle flags, many people don't see them as a racial type of issue. However, we have to realize that it is."

From high school to middle school, Farley says racism isn't a problem that should be focused on one area, it should be a district-wide effort."It all trickles down from middle school to high school."

And students at Union County High School are already starting to address the problem.

Student Ashley Gillespie tells us, "We went to Earl C. Job Corp a couple of months ago and they made this (metal sculpture) for our school. And in return, we had a student in Connections Club - she drew a drawing and we kind of exchanged them, as you know, they have their symbol here and we have our symbol there."

Connections is a new organization formed for people with all backgrounds to interact within the community.

Gillespie says, "I think the students that are in it, they have come together and realize it's not a black or white thing. It's not a racial issue. We're all students here. We all have a common ground so lets get together and do things together."

And those involved hope taking a stand will help minimize racial problems in the district.

Connections Leader Teresa Shelton says, "One student at a time, one change at time, one inspiration at a time. Dealing with one issue and one problem at time, but it takes everyone."

On March 29th, a new diversity committee will meet for the first time to address race relations. Deputy superintendent Dr. Keith Omer says the committee was not formed specifically to address issues at the middle school, but to educate the students and community.

A variety of people from teachers, students, parents, school administrators, as well as church leaders and other community members will be on the committee, so a wide variety of people will be giving their input.