'Black In PUSD' Founders Honored As Local Peacemakers
The Instagram account Black in PUSD went viral last June after thousands of stories of racist experiences in the Poway Unified School District were posted.
The page was created by sisters Nene and Ekene Okolo. It got anonymous responses from students, faculty, staff, and parents who detailed experiences of racism at Poway schools.
The National Conflict Resolution Center recognized the sisters as Local Peacemaker Honorees on Saturday.
“They took a topic and an idea that was very challenging, tackling racism in a school district. They collaborated with change makers and communicated effectively so that things could happen for the better, and that's not an easy thing to do. We wanted to recognize how challenging that was and what a great job they did with it,” said Ashley Virtue, the director of external relations for the National Conflict Resolution Center.
“We were honestly really shocked when we received the award. We were not expecting it at all. The intention of this page was not really to put ourselves on a pedestal or really lead this movement. We were doing it for the people and to really amplify voices of those who haven't been heard for so long,” said Nene Okolo.
The stories on the page prompted Poway Unified to make some changes, including passing a racial equity and inclusion plan and adding ethnic studies and literature courses. The district also hired 13 new staff members, including Black teachers.
Nene and Ekene have also created a website, Ethnucation, that provides articles and lesson plans about people of color.