Sleepy Hollow Students Organize for Black Lives

November 2020

In the months since George Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek
Chauvin, Black Lives Matter protests have swept the nation, turning into the single largest social movement in the history of this country. The movement has not skipped over Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There have been at least five Black Lives Matter protests in the two villages since late May, and at least two Back the Blue rallies.

Sleepy Hollow seniors Sandra Aderemi and Saya Aizeki-Nevins are responsible for organizing many of the Black Lives Matter protests. Aderemi felt compelled to speak out about her experiences as a Black woman in America, and began organizing local rallies. “In our small community, the youth are often sheltered from the powerful organizing culture that is present in larger metropolitan areas. Prior to organizing, I knew of issues that needed to be addressed in our community, but I didn’t know how to go about addressing them,” said student Saya Aizeki-Nevins. “This summer, I was pulled into organizing culture by Sandra. To see her take action for justice without fear of pushback, especially in small villages like Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, was very inspirational for me.” More than 100 Sleepy students, from both the middle and high schools, could be seen in attendance at the various events.

Local organizers and residents have been taking action to combat systemic racism in our community in addition to organizing protests and rallies. Among other initiatives, they have been attending meetings for the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force, the Board of Education and the District Equity Team (all of
which are open to the public). The District Equity Team was created by school administration last year with the purpose of writing a list of recommendations to the Board of Education (BOE) about how to make our schools more equitable, and is composed of administration, teachers, staff, parents, community members, and students. “We try to get our voices heard as much as possible in BOE and task force meetings,” said Sandra Aderemi, “because youth are usually left out of the equation when it comes to addressing community problems.”

Sandra Aderemi, SHHS senior

Her frustration has been shared by many participants in these meetings, who are also engaged in projects outside these venues. Aderemi and Aizeki-Nevins are part of a county-wide coalition of student organizers that aims to provide each community in Westchester with the resources and organizing experience necessary to address their own community problems. Although no one has all the answers to the complex problems we face in our communities and in our nation, working together with groups of people it is possible to achieve the social, political and brain power necessary to change the world for the better.

If you would like to be a part of the District Equity Team, please contact Jack Weidner at [email protected]