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Black, Brown, Hispanic Youth Rising Up

By Josh Resnek

Everett High School Students protest racism. (Photo by Josh Resnek)

The organization of Everett High School students into political unafraid activists and anti-racist voices was enhanced dramatically during the two month period when Councilor Anthony DiPierro’s refusal to resign his office created a seminal moment in racial history here.

Despite being found out to have used the N-word and racist memes that were made public in the Leader Herald, DiPierro refused to resign.

The indifference shown to DiPierro’s racism by the Everett City Council heaped added insult onto that injury.

The School Committee’s failure to call upon DiPierro to resign further exacerbated the situation.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s refusal to influence his cousin to resign, in fact, the mayor’s insistence that DiPierro should be given another chance, were drowned out by the uproar that followed.

That the mayor’s chief of communications, Deanna Deveney was not being asked to resign after she was found to have participated with DiPierro in referring to Black people and Brown people as “darkies” was a bit like pouring gasoline on the racist fire burning.

This led to the ultimate.

About 500 Everett High School students left their classes in a walkout, formed long lines of students two and three deep, and walked to the front of Everett City Hall.

In front of city hall, about the crowd of students peacefully but boisterously and vocally protested racism in Everett.

Students shouting “take back the city” and “the mayor must resign” fired anti-racist shots heard round Greater Boston.

This marked the beginning of a new day in Everett, where 80% of the students attending Everett’s public schools are Blacks, Browns, Hispanics, Brazilians and a large number of immigrant people from nations all over the world.

The nearly all-white city hall leadership team was not moved to action, nor was the city council or the school committee.

However, major news pieces in the Boston Globe, The Leader Herald, W-GBH and Channel 5 Television, as well as radio talk shows taking up the cause, finally forced DiPierro and Deveney to resign.

Perhaps the most decisive moment came during the Jim Braude and Marjory Egan Radio Show when Attorney General Maura Healey, running for governor, told her hosts: “Anthony DiPierro should resign immediately.”

The organization of Everett High School Students into a political force was accomplished with hard work and the interest of teachers at the school, Cory McCarthy, chief among them.

McCarthy is the school system’s chief equity officer.

He served as the students’ sounding board and de facto organizer, although his job is to provide a fair playing field for people of all colors and races.

McCarthy’s efforts to organize the kids, to make them aware of the power they should hold because of the sheer weight of their numbers, was derided by a number of officials both privately and publicly.

“Racism wasn’t the enemy,” McCarthy told the Leader Herald.

“I was the enemy. Empowered kids were the enemy. This is a place where many people believe the status quo must be upheld at all costs,” he added.

Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani backed McCarthy, and the students, in their desire for their voices to be heard by city hall.

Tahiliani remained unafraid despite being threatened by the mayor.

She filed a racism and discrimination complaint against the mayor last March with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Tahiliani has spoken publicly at rallies in front of city hall.

She was one of the very few in this city to call for DiPierro’s resignation.

Organized EHS students willing to protest racial wrongs is a new twist to an old Everett story about disenfranchising people of color as matter of public policy by leaders at city hall.

US Attorney Rachel Rollins is now investigating racism, discrimination and retaliation in Everett city government.

It is indeed a new day here on Juneteenth, 2022.

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