RARE, Roosevelt’s BSU & Other Students of Color Talk Racial Equity at Pizza Luncheon

/ February 2, 2024

This past November 13th, several RARE Board and committee members joined a couple dozen current Roosevelt students from various Students of Color organizations in an hour-long pizza luncheon designed to increase awareness of RARE and its various programs.

The meeting was the result of an invitation from Roosevelt’s Black Student Union extended to RARE and other students of color (SOC).  Asian, Native, and Pacific Islander students were also in attendance.

A number of RARE committees were represented. Gregg Blodgett (RHS, class ’71) spoke for Connections. He let the audience know that Connections is a leadership program, particularly for students interested in racial equity, consisting of group activities that are intended to reinforce leadership concepts and to bring together individuals who in all likelihood wouldn’t otherwise get to know one another. Gregg said, “The program also hopes to increase the feeling of belonging in the high school experience.” He noted that RARE and Connections have run several pilots of the program to get student input. Connections has received high marks in student evaluations.

Maggie Lewis (RHS, class of ’71) gave a brief description of the James Davis Scholarship, recalling what a positive presence James was during his time at Roosevelt, excelling in his studies, football, music, and student government. She noted how many scholarships have been awarded and encouraged the students to apply.

The Open Discussions Committee was represented by Bruce Johnson (RHS class of ’71). He briefly told how RARE began and listed off a number of Open Discussion guests that RARE has hosted over the last three years, including a 2021 Open Discussion with then candidate for mayor Bruce Harrell, and another panel of past and present students this past spring discussing their experiences as biracial Americans.

Besides RARE board members, Natalya Yudkovsky , Roosevelt Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) President, spoke of equity opportunities available for Roosevelt students. She mentioned that the PTSA Race and Equity Committee (REC) will have grants available for student clubs and activities starting in January. “We are also looking for student representatives on the PTSA and REC.” She said that the REC is reaching out to student affinity group clubs to organize potluck dinners for families throughout the year.

John Nelson (class of ’73) spoke on behalf of the Alpha Phi Alpha “Club Alpha” Mentorship Program. This program, which will be starting at RHS and Nathan Hale in 2024, is, according to its mission statement, designed to “help arm young Students of Color with more information for decision-making and problem-solving along their journey to adulthood.”

The pizza luncheon provided a great forum for Roosevelt’s Students of Color to hear more about opportunities that could greatly benefit them. RARE Chairperson Joe Hunter said that the luncheon’s goal was to “establish a line of communication where, going forward, RARE and RHS SOC can get to know each other and understand how we might be able to work together.” There’s nothing like a sit down with lots of pizza to do just that. The luncheon was a good start. And it was fun. “We should do this more often,” Joe said before parting.