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Staunton branch of NAACP responds to reports of racism in local, Virginia schools

Rebecca Barnabi
(© SevenMaps – Shutterstock)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded 115 years ago today in response to ongoing violence against Black individuals around the United States.

Today the NAACP is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. Branches of the NAACP work to improve the political, educational, social and economic status of Black Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities, eliminate racial prejudice, keep the public aware of the adverse effects of discrimination, and take lawful action to secure the elimination of racial discrimination.

The Staunton branch of the NAACP (#7119) stands in steadfast solidarity with the NAACP Virginia State Conference (VSC) and its January 25, 2024, press release that denounced the rise of racial intimidation in Virginia schools. NAACP branches across the Commonwealth have received complaints about Black students being called the “n-word” by white students or similar epithets smeared on school property in Gloucester, Chesapeake, Lynchburg and Matthews.

According to 2022 Hate Crimes Statistics for Virginia, as reported by the FBI, 63.5 percent of hate crimes were against individuals, and 64.8 percent were motivated by race, ethnicity and ancestry. The Staunton Branch joins the VSC in calling on Attorney General Jason Miyares to vigorously investigate acts of racial violence consistent with the intentionality he has investigated other matters in our Commonwealth.

Black public-school children suffer from traditions of racism that permeated the school cultures. On January 31, 2024, students from Buffalo Gap High School were witnessed hurling insults including racial epithets. An Augusta County Public Schools bus driver allegedly told a Black student to allow white students to use the “n-word.” Police were called to the scene and took a report, but the bus driver has not been held accountable.

The Staunton branch of the NAACP is compelled to call attention to the continuous acts of hate and racism with the goal of imploring school administrators to develop protections for Black students. The Staunton NAACP commits to Black and Latinx students and their families in Staunton and Augusta County to confront and vigorously respond to acts of hate and racism and to address ineffectual policies that have form but no substance. The branch condemns weak responses that continue to perpetuate racist acts. The NAACP will stand to confront and to root out racist, discriminatory policies and unjust handling of racial incidents that dehumanize, humiliate and cause long-term adverse consequences to those who are the recipient of racist intimidation acts. The branch will pursue justice to the highest legal level, especially when lack of administrative accountability hurts Staunton’s children.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.