Park Hill, MO – In a historic moment for the racially embattled Park Hill School district, Brandy Woodley and Shereka Barnes, the district’s first ever Black members elected to school board, sat in their first meeting together on the board.
The district elected Woodley as the first Black school board member ever last election, and yesterday she became the Treasurer.
Barnes was voted in after last week’s school board elections, and was sworn into her position yesterday.
School board elections across the country have been met with intense controversy in the age of “Critical Race Theory” and white supremacist parent groups attempting to ban and erase anything Black, brown or LGBTQIA+ from curriculums.
Park Hill in particular continues to be deeply plagued by white supremacy from the parents, to teachers, administrators and students. This was most evident last year amidst the “Petition to Bring Back Slavery” which was signed by over 100 white students, and earlier this year when a white teacher repeatedly said “Ni*ger” to a Black student.
The night of her electoral victory, we took a brief moment to speak with Shereka Barnes and ask a few questions. Our team at the Defender first met Shereka following the horrific, viral slavery petition. She was one of the main parents organizing for change in the district.
Following her decisive victory, here’s what she had to say;
KCD: What do you think your victory symbolizes or says about the future of the district?
Shereka: For every student who looks like me or has felt they don’t belong, my victory symbolizes or affirms they can do anything. They can be accepted and are worthy of a seat at the table. There is room for everyone.
KCD: Why do you think Black parents and students are so excited about your victory?
Shereka: They feel they have been left behind or left out of the process. They feel someone will hold the District accountable.
KCD: What are the first things you want to take action on?
Shereka: I would love to start Breakfast with a Board Member in all the schools. Eating with the students and getting their input into what they love and wish they could change. Also, attending in-service with staff, ensuring our policies are helping them and finding out what they need from the board.