Uproar over covenant only African-American students asked to sign

SEATTLE — This is how these seven members of the Black Student Union at Franklin High School describe a covenant the principal drew up to promote scholastic achievement among African-Americans.

"What was the mistake?" Zion Perez, a senior, was asked.

"It was, OK, not a mistake," Perez said.

"She just came at it from a point of that we didn't feel represented us."

It was distributed last week.

The reaction was immediate.

"I like the message, just not the way it was delivered to us," said Ocean Taylor, a senior.

"It's like we're African-American, yes. We have some things that we need to work out like every other race does. But don't single us out."

"We should want greatness for each and every one of our students no matter their race," said Dawanda James, a senior.

They took exception also to what she decided to call the covenant: “Keepin' it 100,’ which is an iPhone emoji.

"We're taught to be someone who articulates," said Ocean Taylor. "And we're taught to speak proper. And we're taught to speak all this stuff. But yet, the way that you address us is on slang."

So they asked to meet with the principal.

"And we now have a council of black students here at Franklin where we are talking to her about how our interpretations of what happened," said Zion Perez. "And how we can better do this initiative."

And she empowered them to make it right.

"Everybody got in groups," said Tahja Jackson, a senior.

"And picked a different name and put them on the board."

"And she also got us these shirts," said Sherion Jenkins, a senior, laughing as she showed off the shirt." 'All lives matter when black lives matter.' Franklin power."

The Seattle School District issued a statement late Tuesday, largely echoing what the students said.

Then the district officials added this:

They want 100 percent of African-American students to be college-ready when they graduate.