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Rochester school district designates "Black Lives Matter at School" day

A grassroots effort started by a group of parents, teachers, and community members is resulting in a "Black Lives Matter at School" day in the Rochester school district.

Friday, February 17 has been designated as a day of understanding and affirmation in city schools that while all lives matter, black lives deserve special affirmation, attention and understanding right now.

Chris Widmaier, a science teacher at World of Inquiry School is one of the organizers of the event.

He said there has been some criticism of the effort from outside the school community.

"Our response to that is there's enough love to go around for everybody. We can affirm that black lives matter and that doesn't diminish other peoples' lives or identifies in any other way."

Widmaier said there are a number of ways teachers and students can participate in the Black Lives Matter at School day, such as inviting local activists and experts as guest speakers, initiating classroom discussions, or wearing t-shirts and stickers to show their support.

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"People can come to this in a way that they're ready. So, if they're uncomfortable, the first step might just be to study more and do some reading about Black Lives Matter."

Organizers say the event is not part of the national Black Lives Matter movement.  It has the backing of the Rochester Teachers Association, The Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester, and the Rochester Board of Education.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.