BLS students address racial tensions at Black History showcase

Boston Latin students Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau read a statement Saturday.
Mary Schwalm for The Boston Globe
Boston Latin students Meggie Noel (left) and Kylie Webster-Cazeau read a statement Saturday.

One by one, students at Boston Latin School stepped on to the stage in their school auditorium and recited a poem written about their experiences with racism.

“I am an angry black BLS student. . . . A white classmate was shocked that I could get accepted and she got rejected,” one female student said in an even tone.

“Teachers underestimate my ability to do well in class,” another female student said.


More than a dozen students participated in the presentation held Saturday night as part of the Black History Month Showcase that drew at least 100 students, parents, and alumni.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Earlier in the day, Mayor Martin J. Walsh met with community leaders at the school to discuss allegations of racism at the prestigious public high school. A civil rights group on Friday formally asked US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz to investigate.

Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, attended the meeting with the mayor. “It’s really refreshing to come forward with a sense of collaboration,” Williams said in an interview Saturday.

Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for Walsh, said the mayor would not comment on the meeting.

“The mayor is fully committed to launching an independent review and is currently seeking input from the community before detailing next steps. His main focus continues to be ensuring we are fostering a safe and supportive environment for all BLS students,” McGilpin said.


The controversy has rocked BLS and its network of alumni.

After Saturday’s showcase, student representatives of BLS BLACK — which stands for Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge — read a statement, calling on school alumni and others to work for change at the school.

“We will show BLS, Boston, and the nation that we refuse to be silenced,” said Meggie Noel, the group’s president, and member Kylie Webster-Cazeau, who read the statement together. “We understand that a racially charged climate and discrimination has been a part of the history at BLS. However, it does not have to be our future.”

Alumni who attended Saturday night saluted the students’ call to action.

“I’m really impressed and floored by the young organizers,” said Laura Soul Brown, a black woman who graduated in 1978.


“As an alum of color, I am here to support the students,” said Walter Apperwhite, a 1989 graduate whose daughter graduated in 2011. “Most alums here and there, are here to talk to [students], see how they feel, and let them know we’re here to support them.”

More coverage:

School district to investigate racial climate at Boston Latin

Superintendent meets with angry Boston Latin students

Boston Latin students who launched race dialogue praised

Alexandra Koktsidis can be reached at alexandra. Follow her on Twitter @akoktsidis.