Student leadership was key to the Civil Rights Movement and it is key to the social justice issues today that need your voice. You are the leaders of tomorrow! – John Lewis
SGA Vice President at Latin College Prep speaks on her experience hearing Congressman John Lewis speak at our recent Student Leadership Forum. Xehara Pledger is a 6th grade scholar at the school in East Point, Georgia nested right outside of the City of Atlanta. Leadership is critically important to Xehara who serves as the schools SGA Vice President. She is also a member of the Beta Club, 6th Grade A Team, Latin Sisterhood and the Dance Team. Her inspiration to be a leader started at home with her parents and family. Xehara speaks out on the importance of leadership and impact of John Lewis. The EdLanta blog welcomes the voice of Xehara Pledger as she speaks out on student leadership.
“You are the leaders of the school, change begins with you!”, words spoken to us every week by our SGA Advisor and Dean of School Culture, Jason Allen. When Dean Allen informed us of Congressmen Lewis being our guest speaker for our Student Leadership Forum, it was like the earth stood still. I remember seeing the excitement on the faces of my peers. I was able to spend some time with Congressman John Lewis on December 19, 2017, when he came to speak to the student leaders. I have always been impressed with Congressman John Lewis but he brought me even more inspiration on this day. He shared how he fought for what he believed in and he made us understand how he was a person that would never give up on what he truly believed in. He is a very strong-willed person. He told us about his interactions with Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King. He shared how he was almost killed marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I had a chance to walk across that bridge and I can only imagine how afraid you would be seeing all of those protesters and police standing at the end waiting for you. When he talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he told us: “He became my inspiration, my leader. It was Dr. King who inspired him to stand up, to speak up and speak out.” Congressman Lewis said that he got in trouble. He got in to good trouble, necessary trouble. He told us to get some good trouble and respectfully do what was necessary for us to achieve our goals. I have said that I want to be a politician and then become the first African-American female to be President. The words that Congressman John Lewis shared, has made me event more confident that I can achieve my goals.
Hearing Congressman Lewis speak in person empowered me and my fellow student leaders to take our rightful places. We are stepping in the shoes of great leaders such as Congressman Lewis are walking alongside him in the journey to see social justice and civil rights truly apart of our culture. It is imperative that as young people, we seek out good examples and role models to help pick up the torch and continue paving the way of progressive change.
Here’s what we plan to do as student leaders to continue the progress of social justice advocacy:
- Being the example of strong leaders in our schools and communities
- Speaking out when issues are happening against our school, communities and cultures
- Making sound decisions that influence change
- Avoiding taking the easy way out of things
- Standing up for what’s right at all times
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.