When the death of George Floyd sparked protests in Denver, members of the Black Student Alliance at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College felt like they couldn’t sit idly by.
But after peaceful demonstrations turned into violent altercations with police, advisers implored the students not to attend.
Find a different — and safer — way to take action, they said.
Incoming senior Jenelle Nangah, 17, recently had started a YouTube channel and gained some traction with an online audience. She recalled thinking, if we can speak our minds and reach people through these platforms, then why not use them?
That idea snowballed into an original podcast series, called “Know Justice, Know Peace: DMLK’s The Take.” The series, which debuted July 4, lends a youth perspective to the national discussions about racial justice and inequality in the United States.
“The youth voice is heavily overlooked,” Nangah said. “I don’t know why people act as if we do not have feelings or we are always wrong because we lack knowledge.”
“Know Justice, Know Peace” is hosted by Nangah, Kaliah Yizar, 15, and Dahni Austin, 15, and features a rotating list of guests including other members of the Black Student Alliance and school faculty. The podcast, slated for an eight-episode run, is broadcast biweekly at facebook.com/DMLKsTheTake.
And these students aren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects. The first episode, for example, analyzed Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Hosts compared the national holiday to Juneteenth, contrasting the separate liberations of Black and white Americans and discussing their impact in the context of current events.
An upcoming episode will explore racial inequities in the public school system. According to Nangah, the school’s Black Student Alliance was founded in November after students took a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Its primary initiative is advocating for more Black history to be included in Denver Public Schools’ curriculum, and “trying to educate other African American students, really all students, about Black history,” Austin said.
The group has discussed this initiative with school leaders, and on July 16, DPS Deputy Superintendent of Academics Tamara Acevedo is scheduled to join the podcast to talk about potential changes to the curriculum.
That underscores the mission of “Know Justice, Know Peace”: to have tough conversations that empower their peers to make real-world change.
“Ignorance does come from lack of knowledge,” Yizar said. “To be able to put our words out there and educate people, we can use that to open up those conversations about race, because at the end of the day those are conversations that people avoid.”
Nangah agreed, adding she wants this podcast to inspire action in a positive way.
“Now that you (young adults) know and are confident in the fact that your voice can make an impact, what kind of impact are you trying to make?” she said.