Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racism Works

“Thank you to the Anderson, De Dios, and Sandoval-Moshenberg families. I appreciate this opportunity to speak my truth 

Before I begin I would like to have a moment of silence to acknowledge the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Manahoac, Nacotchtank, Piscataway First Nations tribes on which we are standing, working, and learning in today.

For those who don’t know me, I am Jocelyn McCullough

I am a proud and unapologetically Black girl in America 

I am a scholar 

I am a student leader at Justice High School 

I am the great grand-daughter of a Tuskegee airman

I am the granddaughter of Black Panthers who were at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963- 57 years ago

I am also the great cousin of Emmet Till who like George Floyd was murdered because he was a Black Male

I am an anti-racist  

And I am here to tell you that WE ARE DONE DYING 

WE ARE DONE DYING At the hands of the police


WE ARE DONE DYING Without accountability

          I am here for 
Breonna Taylor
Antwon Rose 
Alton Sterling 
Trayvon Martin
Laquan Mcdonald
Sandra Bland

and countless others who have been killed at the hands of police
whose names will never make it on the news

I am here today because my father’s, mother’s and little brother’s life matters as much as any white person’s life 

I am here today because every Brown and Black man, woman and child deserves equal protection under the law of THESE United States of America

I am here 57 years later, just 10 miles from where my grandparents marched alongside freedom fighters still asking this same question

When will America stop tolerating injustice, police brutality, economic oppression, and racism?

That is who I am and why I am here.  

I know you are here because you want to be the generation that fixes the problem as opposed to passing it on to your children and grandchildren.  

As I continue to speak and while the sun still shines every day ask yourself why you are here and what are you willing to do?

As Sweet Honey in the Rock sang (in Ella’s Song):  

We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons

We believe  Black lives matter everywhere whether it be in your child’s classroom or on their little league soccer team. 

Black lives matter every day and everywhere.

Black lives matter When 
people of privilege pull their kids out of their local public school to go to one with less people of color

Black lives matter  When 
parents know their children’s curriculum is sugar-coating history but don’t care enough to use their white privilege to say anything about it. 

Black lives matter when 
the same prison system that was used to keep Black people in chains is now profiting off of detaining immigrants.

Black lives matter when 
their white children don’t have more than a few Black or Latino students in their AAP,  AP or IB classes. 

Black lives matter
When Black children are expected to close the achievement gap as if something is wrong with THEM and not the racist and classist education system.

Black lives matter when
You are proud of living in a diverse community but not in any way are supporting people of color in your community.  

Black lives matter when
creating schools and highways named after people who wanted to keep Black people in chains. 

Once it is understood that Black lives Matter 

The recent immigrant family will be able to get their child into IB/ AP classes 

Once it is understood that Black lives Matter 

The transgender or biracial child will not have to deal with 100 microaggressions a day. 

Once it is understood that Black lives Matter 

The Asian child who has been trying to explain the horrors of police brutality to their family will be heard.  

Once Black lives matter and are respected there will be no more George Floyds.

As Malcolm X said: You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

           Change is Needed Now

For me to go to a school that was named after a confederate and many of my friends of color not knowing why that’s offensive is a clear example of why change is needed now

This is an example of one of the many dangers of our history being taught from a white supremacist perspective. 

 For me to go to a school where many immigrant children aren’t able to play varsity sports because they can’t afford to be on expensive club teams is why change is needed now 

For me to go to a school where white children are coddled when they express racism while students of color are silenced is why change is needed now

Or that Black students make up less than 2% of the student body at the illustrious Thomas Jefferson high school

This is an example of one of the many dangers of our history being taught from a white supremacist perspective. 

Shows me we have some real work to do right here in Fairfax County

We must educate ourselves and our community
We must demand justice
We must Disrupt Racism

You all need to vote for all the Black people who have been wrongfully incarcerated. 

You need to vote for people like me who are too young to vote but are being mentally and physically impacted by Racism every day. 

Together we can capitalize on this moment
The world is watching us,  America,
watching us and waiting for us to decide
What are we going to do next? Are we going to continue to accept the status quo or dismantle our racist systems? 

Who are we?
What are we willing to sacrifice for justice?
Which side of this revolution will you be on?

Will YOUR grandchildren be here still chanting and singing “We shall overcome” 60 years from now!

It gives me hope that there are a lot of people here today! And I want all of you to join me in song
While we sing honor the native land you stand on.  
While we sing think about what conversation you want to have at the dinner table tomorrow as well as what book you will read next. 

Thank you for everyone for valuing and hearing my voice today! 
WE will now sing This Little Light of Mine 
Please join us in song and DON’T be afraid to get into it and clap your hands

Thank you!”


(Photo Credit: Facebook / Mary De Dios)

About Jocelyn McCullough

Jocelyn McCullough is a young leader from Virginia. She is the executive president and the student leader of the Equity team at Justice High School. A member of the class of 2021, Jocelyn is eager to continue her anti-racist work to hold her community accountable to its equity mission.