SEATTLE -Teachers, students and parents across Seattle public schools wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts Wednesday to promote racial equity in schools.

Event organizers say many educators in Washington’s largest school district are voluntarily using the day to lead discussions about institutional racism, teach about black history and hold rallies.

Organizer Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School, said the day of action also offers opportunities to address racial inequities in Seattle schools.

About 53 percent of the district’s 53,000 students are non-white, with blacks making up the largest minority group at 16 percent.

“It’s also important to understand that for black lives to matter, black education has to matter,” Hagopian told KUOW-FM ( “This movement is also broader than police accountability. In a school system as dramatically unequal as ours, it’s incumbent upon educators and families to stand up and say something about this.”

About 2,000 “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts quickly sold out, and hundreds more were printed, he said. Some people posted photos on social media Wednesday showing them wearing those shirts or wearing their own spray-painted ones.

Blue Lives Matters, a group of active and retired law enforcement officers, has criticized the action as inappropriate, saying public employees shouldn’t be pushing the “political message.”

The 5,000-member union representing Seattle educators, however, is backing it. “Eliminating the opportunity gap and providing an equitable quality public education is at the forefront of our mission,” the Seattle Education Association said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the school district is in the middle of a weeklong campaign to close racial disparities in achievement, discipline and other areas.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.



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