After a Bronx principal banned an English teacher from educating students on Black history, activists, parents, and fellow educators have vowed to make some history of their own. The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice has organized two protests calling for the removal of Intermediate School 224 (IS 224) principal Patricia Catania. English teacher Mercedes Liriano said that the administrator is a racist and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network is standing with her.
“We demand that she be removed today; if not, we turn up the heat and do what we have to do by any means necessary,” NAN crisis director Rev. Kevin McCall said, per The New York Daily News. “She will learn a quick black history lesson on the power of organizing against taking away students’ right to learn.”
— NationalActionNet (@NationalAction) February 10, 2018
Rev. Al Sharpton was equally appalled at Catania’s actions. He remarked on Saturday that she has got to go.
“This is a disgrace and an insult,” Rev. Sharpton said. “(IS 224) needs to know we stand with this teacher and will be there to do whatever we need to do.”
TOMORROW @NATIONALACTION TO RALLY AT MIDDLE SCHOOL 224 IN THE BRONX AT 3:30 P.M. WHERE TEACHER WAS TOLD SHE COULD NOT TEACH BLACK HISTORY
345 Brook Avenue, Bronx, NY 10454
Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 – 3:30 p.m.
— NationalActionNet (@NationalAction) February 11, 2018
The Department of Education has already opened an investigation into the matter since Liriano was only doing her job. New York state curriculum standards recommend that the Harlem Renaissance, including the writings of Frederick Douglas, be taught to sixth and seventh grade students. But on last Wednesday, Catania pulled Liriano out of class and ordered her to abandon her lesson plans or be given a written warning. The English teacher defied her.
“She’s attempting to stop the students from learning about their own history, and she’s denying them the right to learn about where they came from,” Liriano told The New York Daily News.
Students use the power of social media to organize a protest on Thursday where 75 percent of the student body wore black attire. They have challenged Catania themselves and will be supported on Monday by the greater community. There will be two demonstrations in front of the school at the beginning and at the end of the day. Activists said that if the actions don’t result in Catania’s removal, then further actions will be taken against the Department of Education.
Patricia Catania, Principal of MS 224 in the Bronx, does the "Pinky Thumb" exercise in front of her Brain Power station in her office. Brain Power is a foundational component of the school's emotional wellness philosophy. pic.twitter.com/BCSKvtkZ69
— Brain Power Wellness (@brainpowerwell) December 22, 2017