South Orange Middle School students joined in protests taking place around the country — including by their counterparts at Columbia High School — by walking out of school and peacefully marching and chanting.
An estimated 200-300 students participated, representing all grades, one student said. The crowd marched around the school and stopped in front, holding signs and chanting slogans including: “Dump Trump,” “Not My President,” and “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”
Principal Lynn Irby and administrators and some teachers expressed their support for the students and stood outside during the protest, and took video of the gathering. Many students returned to class after a time; although as late as 2:30 p.m., a small group remained outside. They eventually also returned to the school.
Lisa Duggan, a SOMS parent who saw the protest, wrote on Facebook that she was “moved to tears” as the students sat in silence and then played recordings of “We Shall Overcome” and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“If you know my community,” Duggan wrote, “you know we are made of African-American and white families, Jewish, Muslim and Christian families, bi-racial and inter-faith families, African and Haitian immigrant families, straight and LGBTQ families. These children know. They understand what is at stake.”
She added that she hopes adults will be as “brave and clear-eyed” as the students were today.
Said one 8th grade female SOMS student: “I protested today because what Donald Trump wants to do the our country is not OK. They way he thinks isn’t a good influence on the little kids and all the people who voted for him need to realize this. He can’t be going around saying that he has sexually assaulted women and that it is OK to do it. It’s not OK to treat women any differently than you would a man. We are all equal.”