Students at Tuscaloosa County's Hillcrest High School organized a walkout Wednesday morning over alleged restrictions on their Black History Month Program.

Lisa Young, the president of the Tuscaloosa Chapter of the NAACP, told the Thread her organization is still working with the school, its administrators and the Tuscaloosa County School System to separate fact from fiction. The gist of the matter is that some students report that administrators at Hillcrest told them their student-led Black History Month Program would not be allowed to reference anything that happened before 1970.

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This would preclude the Program from discussing slavery and most of the Civil Rights Movement.

The school told WVUA 23 this week the reports were untrue rumors started by someone who is not involved in the Black History Month programming and that no one tried to restrict the topics the student-created program is allowed to cover.

Young told the Thread Wednesday morning that there seems to be a "conflict" between what students are being told when they are with their parents and community leaders and what school leaders say to them when they are alone.

Young said the students organized the walkout themselves and did so to break their silence and be heard, and move toward a transparent dialogue about what has happened.

Around 300 students participated in the walkout, which started around 9:30 a.m. and lasted less than an hour.

TCSS Superintendent Keri Johnson issued a statement backing the students' right to free speech Wednesday afternoon.

"The Tuscaloosa County School System supports our students’ right to peacefully demonstrate. A number of our Hillcrest High students have concerns about the culture within their school. We care deeply about our students, and it is important that their concerns are heard," Johnson said. "We are putting together a plan to make sure our students feel heard, so that we know the right steps to put in place to ensure all students know that they are valued."

For more details on the walkout and the school's response to it and other student concerns, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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