Stoughton protests

On Friday, June 5, protesters gathered on Main Street to demand justice for George Floyd.

Problems of race and equity have come to the forefront nationally in recent months, and the Stoughton Area school board is working on being a part of starting a community conversation about both locally.

After several weeks of discussion, the board approved a racial equity resolution at its July 20 meeting, and it is working on organizing a community listening session on race and equity next month.

Community relations committee chair Steve Jackson said last week the listening session would be the first step in a “long-term” process to engage the community on the issues of race and equity.

“By listening to the community, we can spend more time understanding what the real issues are,” he said. “Other communities are doing something similar to this … to engage in conversation and really to move the issue forward with an intentional process, and I think that’s really, really important.”

Jackson said the board also wants to share the equity-related work the district has been doing over the past several years. Those efforts have intensified since race relations and equity have become more prominent topics in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His death, at the hands of police officers, inspired protests across the country, some of which are ongoing and have brought federal intervention.

The school board held a discussion of racial equality efforts at its June 15 meeting and has since been discussing those issues with a goal to start a community conversation on the topics. Last week, board president Frank Sullivan said now is the time to turn that into action.

“We are in a position right now where we’re having societal conversations about issues of race and equality that have made their way to Stoughton,” he said. “We have people who are interested in these issues, and want to talk about these issues and move this dialogue forward, and it’s very important to me we don’t waste that opportunity.”

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