Students form “Panther Anti-Racist Union” to help combat racism in the district.


Members of the PARU protest at the school board building to advocate for a more inclusive education. Photo by Layla Smith.

Anna Lumsargis, Editor-in-Chief of On The Prowl

Within the past year, racial inequality has been brought to light due to the tragic passing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. On a more local scale, some Central students decided to use their voices to spread awareness and combat racism in our district with the creation of the “Panther Anti-Racist Union (PARU).” 

 “ [The] PARU was initially created during the summer of 2020, because there were numerous comments by the board of CYSD against the agenda of racial education, and from there there was an exponential increase in us realizing how much progress was needed in Central.” said junior Edha Gupta. 

Because the school board is a crucial part of the district, students Allison Sergeon (senior), Princess Gabriel (senior), Prital Prabhu (senior), Edha Gupta (junior) and Layla Smith (senior) felt the need to stand up for the future education of racial history, while also making a conscious effort to spread diversity awareness. Acting teacher, Mr. Hodge, advises and encourages the group to move forward with their advocacy. 

“The mission of the Panther Anti-Racist Union is to spread awareness of issues such as racism and social injustice, promote inclusivity, educate on accurate racial history, and create a safe place for marginalized groups to have their voices heard,” said senior Layla Smith. 

Since the creation of the PARU, representatives have spoken to the school board multiple times about implementing change in our district, protested and have made an Instagram account to reach out to the student body. 

“One of the most prominent reasons why racism continues to be an issue in our district is because there is a lack of communication, accountability and action when it comes to racism in our many schools. To combat these issues, PARU has created a number of initiatives such as 

People in Power: Talking to the school board on multiple occasions about the racism within the district. We discussed solutions on how to educate those who do not understand or choose not to understand racism and its historical along with present-day context. Enough is Enough Protest: Organizing a protest against the complete disregard of minority voices and minority history,” said Smith. 

Throughout February, the PARU also celebrated Black History month on their social media. 

  “During almost every day of Black History Month, we shared a fact about historical black figures and their impact on the world. Also, we created a competition for others to share stories, art, history, songs, etc., that revolve around black history or involve social justice. For more information on the rest of what we did during this month, check out our Instagram page @cy.paru.” said Smith. 

The PARU believes that there is no better time than now to raise awareness and speak out about racial issues. 

“Right now there’s not much we can do with COVID, but we can all try to educate ourselves and try to spread awareness by pointing out injustice and hatred in our daily lives. Even changing the minds of a few people around you can be super helpful to bettering our community,” said senior Prital Prabhu. 

If you are interested in getting involved please email [email protected]. They ask that you list your name and grade and why you want to get involved. Once received, they will send further information. 

Everyone, regardless of skin color, can get involved in fighting racial injustice! The more people we have on board eager to change something, the better.” said Prabhu.