Francis Lewis High School held its annual Civil Rights Symposium, an all-day event, on May 17 in the auditorium. Students presented projects, including sculptures, paintings, original songs and documentaries, that highlighted the experiences of minority groups in the United States.
Junior Sahar Husain focused on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy (DACA) and its impact on immigrants in the United States.
“I didn’t realize how many people are actually being affected in this present day,” Husain said. “A lot of people are being deported and they have nowhere else to go. This is disappointing because these people come to stay and gain citizenship and they can’t.”
Husain enjoyed collaborating with others while preparing for the symposium.
“Working with my partner was my favorite part when conducting projects and creating ideas about what our project would be about,” Husain added.
Junior Emily Paucar was inspired by the recent laws that infringe the rights of women by making abortion illegal in conservative states. Paucar and her group were shocked to learn about the lengths women had to take to receive abortions and believe it is significant to recognize what women across the nation endured and continue to endure because of reproductive rights.
“We learned that women had a hard time fighting for their rights for abortion because it was illegal,” Paucar said. “This is important to discuss because many women died from abortions they did secretly.”
Senior Lauren Lovett also worked on a project about child immigrants who were forced to represent themselves in court because they were not guaranteed the right to an attorney. Her visual project, a diorama, helped Lovett open her eyes to the challenges undocumented immigrants face.
“It was concerning because these young kids have to represent themselves in court without an attorney,” Lovett said.
Lovett was proud of the steps it took to reach the end product.
“Creating the actual diagram was my favorite part because seeing it come together was gratifying,” Lovett added.
U.S. History teacher Ms. Willcox coordinated the event, urging students to acknowledge what minority groups have gone through and continue to go through.
“Our school is really diverse, and we need to show that there are struggles for most groups,” Ms. Willcox said. “It is inspiring to see what the students come up with and how creative they can be to present the information. We have a lot of good projects where you can see that people took time and effort to research and find out how their group was impacted.”
Social Studies teacher Ms. Gonzalez urged for more minority groups to be added to the list.
“This is the first year we did immigration,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “I want the students to have the opportunity to research a minority group and a topic they don’t usually get to explore.”
Lovett reflected on her project and stressed the importance of equal rights because history can repeat itself.
“It is so important for everyone to have equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” Lovett added. “Without them a lot of people are put in these positions. It’s important to acknowledge that.”