By Susie Steimle

VACAVILLE (KPIX 5) — Two Bay Area high school students, with some help from the ACLU, won their fight to pay tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement in their yearbook.

A Black Lives Matter piece almost didn’t make it into the Buckingham Charter Magnet High School yearbook because it divided the student body so heavily and administrators were worried about that.

In the end, it turned out to be a freedom of speech lesson for both administrators and students.

When Ariana Coleman and Vanessa Mewborn were asked by their school to put together a Black Lives Matter piece for their yearbook — initially they were taken aback.

Mewborn, a junior said, “You don’t really expect that coming out of Buckingham.”

But, they dove right in, interviewing teachers and students to find out how Buckingham Charter Magnet High School felt about race.

Not surprisingly, it became controversial.

Arianna Coleman, a senior said, “After all that work we did, after all the interviews and then you don’t run it because you think it’s racist?”

So, Coleman and Mewborn contacted the American Civil Liberties Union.

Abre’ Conner, a staff attorney with the ACLU said, “It was a clear violation of the First Amendment, state law and education code.”

They won.

Students walked out of school in Vacaville on Thursday with yearbooks in hand, with a current and controversial piece in the center of it.

These two young girls say they’ve learned some valuable lessons.

“High school is hard,” Mewborn said.

But, they also learned that it can be worth putting up a fight to find out how strong your voice can be.

Mewborn said, “Black people as a community, our lives do matter.”

And Coleman added, “I hope everyone understands that black lives matter, all lives matter and my voice matters.”

The school released a statement saying it supports students’ rights to free speech, and hopes shedding light on various perspectives will give students a better understanding of one another.


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