Preventative Strategies | Page 5 | Not in Our Town

Preventative Strategies

Gunn High School in the Palo Alto Unified School District has held a Not In Our School campaign at their school for nearly a decade. The objective of the weeklong campaign is to “promote acceptance, awareness and identity within the PAUSD community” and “to help the Gunn community increase understanding and encourage discussion about the diversity and race relations Gunn.”
Youth leaders involved in Not In Our Town/Not In Our School efforts from across the country gather for the first NIOT National Gathering in Bloomington, IL, home to one of the first and most active NIOT groups. The students discuss strategies to address hate with other civic and community leaders. (6:31) 
When anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps announced his hate group he calls Westboro Baptist Church would picket Newark Memorial High School's production of "The Laramie Project," community members like Gail Nelson couldn't sit quietly. Borrowing from a scene in the play, concerned citizens dressed as angels to block from view Phelps' followers and their hateful placards. (2:04)
When the Kansas hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (Fred Phelps' family) announced they would picket Bay Area schools and Jewish institutions, Lowell High School students in San Francisco decide to rally to show their love for their diverse, inclusive community. 
When the white supremacist group National Socialist Movement began organizing in Olympia, student leaders decided to take action by organizing a school wide assembly to address the threat and express their values for a safe and accepting community. (3:00) Discussion Questions: One student spoke about the need for “active participation” to ensure their town was not a place for hate. What does the idea of “active participation” mean to you? Does it apply to everyone in a community?  Why or why not? The students profiled in the video shared that there were small numbers of students of color in their community and that they were each often the only non-Caucasian student in class.   What impact do you think this had on their decision to lead efforts against the neo-Nazis in their town?  Do you think this made it harder or easier for them to take on this challenge? Explain. One student shared that “The enemy is not the Nazis, but any form of hate.”  How do you think that these students could continue to promote anti-hate efforts in their school and community beyond the crisis they faced with the neo-Nazi group?  Are these activities that we could apply to our own school or community? To turn on closed captioning for this film, click play, then click the Subtitles/CC button on the bottom of the video player.
Facing History and Ourselves combats racism, antisemitism, and religious prejudice by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe. Many teenagers feel like they have little influence on the world around them. Yet, throughout history, young people have also played an important role in their communities and in social change movements. For example, high school students were a driving force behind the U.S. civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.   Not in Our School videos help students explore some ways young people are making a difference in their communities today.  
As large scale protests across the country highlight the racial injustice that continues to plague the country, Dr. Martin Luther King's dream for justice, equality and non-violence provides an urgent call for reflection and action this year. Every January, Not In Our Town honors Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy by sharing the real life stories of people who are applying Dr. King’s principles today. Though the political landscape has changed since the Civil Rights era, his dream that the United States would fulfill its promise of equality has yet to become reality. But Dr. King’s work proves that change is indeed possible in this country. The communities in Embracing the Dream: Lessons from the Not In Our Town Movement are living proof of that—town by town, school by school, they demonstrate that change is happening.  Watch their stories below. What will you do this Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Monday, January 18th - to Embrace the Dream? Not In Our Town provides Three Simple Action Steps 1)   Take the Pledge to Stop Hate and Bullying
When the Kansas hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (Fred Phelps' family) announced they would picket Bay Area schools and Jewish institutions, students at Gunn High School decided they could not sit quietly. With the support of their teachers and administrators, they chose to respond with song and positive messages of love, peace and acceptance. (3:34) Discussion Questions
Every year, Palo Alto Unified School District holds "Not In Our Schools" month to encourage students to talk about and take action against hate. To kick off the fourth annual event, students, teachers and community members came together to watch the premiere of a documentary about their model campaign. (2:51)
An excerpt of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary that tells the uplifting story of how the residents of Billings, Montana, joined together when their neighbors were threatened by white supremacists. Townspeople of all races and religions swiftly moved into action. Religious and community leaders, labor union volunteers, law enforcement, the local newspapers and concerned individuals stood united and spoke loudly for a hate-free community, proclaiming in no uncertain terms "Not In Our Town!" (5:32)