The Stow-Munroe Falls City School District Board of Education had a special virtual meeting June 29 to read the comments from the public sent for public comment at the school board meeting June 22 when the board proposed a statement on racism. The comments were not read on June 22 because of time constraints. The following are some excerpts from the more than 40 comments originally submitted.

"In my view (and the views of many of my fellow alumni) the longer the board waits to speak out casts an increasing shadow of doubt on whether or not SMFCSD supports African American students. I ask that the board starts by stating on the record that Black Lives Matter. In this situation, silence is consent. What message are you sending the next generation of students?" -Sean Blasko, SMFHS class of 2010

"Tell your students you are not only distressed about the current events, but you plan to take actionable steps against racism. Tell them Black Lives Matter. This is not about a political statement, this is about an expression of value and appreciation for marginalized communities." -Chris Hendricks, alumnus

"Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn't mean you're saying cops are bad, it's not some sort of self-loathing statement about whiteness. Simply stated, it's a way of saying we recognize the systemic problems that minority members of this community face. That we see and acknowledge systemic police brutality. That we understand the pain the Black community is going through right now, and that we, as a community support and will continue to support our minority members." -Rebecca Alexander, Munroe Falls resident

"The distances I've traveled over the years have given me perspective on our hometown. I know Stow as intimately as anyone born and raised there. Take it from a native daughter: you have a racist, white supremacist culture. Your school district is populated by children raised by parents who have never had to acknowledge or grapple with the true history of this country. Your curriculum, like curriculum around the country, has been designed to whitewash over state-sponsored terrorism against Indigenous people and Black people, especially African Descendants of Slaves (ADOS). It's not wholly your fault - America is like this everywhere. But it is your problem, and you need to do something about it." -Deborah Wang, class of 2005

"How does SMFHS plan to move forward as an institution in our current social transformation, a broad cultural reckoning, with the legacy of racism in this country: from slavery and Jim Crow discrimination to its current manifestation in the forms of mass incarceration, police violence, and institutional-systemic racism? What plans does the SMFHS school board have for addressing the disproportionate killing of Black people in this country - and to not only make its students feel safe, but to give them the same support and encouragement and opportunities provided to their white peers?" –Charles Epply, class of 2004

"I literally cannot remember having any teachers of color at SMFHS, when I attended -- forgive me if I'm wrong. What I do remember, though, is being taught that the reason why the Civil War happened, was because of states' rights. It happened because of the same thing that's happening right now -- slavery (in the form of prisons), lynchings...the list goes on, sadly. I urge you to do something -- anything -- about BLM. Stow, like everywhere, needs to do better. The sin of omission is just as bad as the sin that's done openly." -Aaron Yeager, class of 2006

"I am speaking out for my peers and a teacher who did not survive high school. For my former band director, Linda Kellam. She loved her students and connected with each one she taught. She took her own life after a skiing trip in January of 2002, during the second half of my freshman year. The other band directors were amazing sources of comfort and helped us through our grief like a family. For my friend George Garrison. We were Boy Scouts together and his father was a professor at Kent State. George committed suicide with his father's service rifle at 14 in 2003 after being bullied for being tall, lanky, and Black. One of my worst memories of high school was passing out flyers at his funeral and seeing all of his friends crying right along with the people who bullied him. For Shawn Blackwell who was so funny and likable and ready to enlist in the Navy. He was 17 in 2005, my senior year, when his body was pulled out of Crystal Lake after taking his own life. Shawn was bullied as well for being different, for being smart, and for being Black. For Billy Porubsky, my friend who went down a dark road after graduation. Mental health issues left Billy with little options for sustainable employment and for reasons unknown, Billy was knocking on doors in a Stow Neighborhood one night in 2017. The police officer who took him to the Haven of Rest would end up shooting Billy twice in the chest on the sidewalk after an argument. I carry these stories with me every single day and am thankful that I have been able to find support and understanding throughout my life to fight my own trials with racism in the community and to keep their memories alive. When I was in Stow schools though, I often felt alone and knew my POC peers did too." -Miguel Carvallo

"I am writing to you not only as a Stow/Kent area community member and mother, but also as a licensed Mental Health Counselor. Racism has well documented adverse mental health effects on people of color. Racial trauma is real, and something that some of your students and staff may be affected by. By taking an ‘all lives matter’ approach to this issue, you would be dismissing the very real experiences of members of your school community. Trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk explained, ‘For those of you who wish to leave politics out of dealing with trauma, I wish to remind you that trauma is all about living under social conditions where terrible things are allowed to happen and the truth cannot be told.’ Declining to face and name racism is allowing it to happen without the truth being told." -Amy Gray, Kent resident

"My white children have never felt that they were not welcome in this district due to the color of their skin. This is NOT about ‘every’ student, this is about doing better for our Black students. This is about letting our Black students and families know that they absolutely have a place here. BLACK LIVES MATTER and we need to do so much better than this as a majority white district." -Pamela Wind, Stow resident

"Privilege allows you to ignore the problems of racism because you don’t face them. Black students and parents can’t ignore racism, we must face it. We must deal with it. Racism is a daily, anxiety-inducing concern for Black people in any community, including Stow and Munroe Falls." -Anedra Jones, Stow resident

"Nobody said that all lives didn't matter but Black lives are in danger and the people in this community need to let the Black community of Stow that they are safe, protected and loved. As a white woman I have never felt threatened by a police officer or feared death while being pulled over; that's a simple example of my privilege." -Nora Bryan, Stow resident

"My son attends Stow High School, and has always attended Stow schools his entire life. He will be an upcoming senior this year and while he is biracial, his skin color is brown. This whole situation has terrified him and made a major impact on the way he feels about law-enforcement at this time. I feel like the school system backing the all lives matter motto, it’s disrespectful to the situation that we currently have going on in the world." -Heather Moss, parent

"Growing up as a first-grader at Indian Trail, there were only two Black children in the school — myself and my brother. That same year was the first time I dealt with a racist ‘joke.’ A classmate told me, in the middle of the lunch line so everyone could hear, that Black people had dark skin because we were dirty and didn’t take baths. Now, as a 34-year-old woman, I realize how dumb that sounds. But as a 7-year-old girl, that ‘joke’ did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me feel as though there was something wrong with me, as if I should be ashamed of my skin and who I was. It was traumatic. I will never forget telling my parents and my teachers about the comment — just after learning about Martin Luther King Jr., no less. It was at that moment I stopped being just a girl at school, but the Black girl at school. That moment that I knew that no matter how well I did in class or how well I played with others at recess, I would always be different." –Deanna Stevens, class of 2004

"If students in Germany can learn about the horrible atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews, then Students in America need to learn the atrocities it committed (and still commits) to our Black population. One of the best ways to stop the lasting racism in our country is to teach students about it so we can have meaningful conversations about the way we treat Black people in America." -Carter Pierce, Stow resident