For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Black Student Union produced a virtual assembly for the school about Black people’s experience in Marysville.
The M-PHS Black Student Union talked with students and community members about their experience to share to the school.
“There is an overarching celebration of diversity and I see this in community and see in this school,” said Nicole Marcus, the junior class counselor at M-PHS and the Black Student Union advisor. “We celebrate the message of inclusivity."
Local Black people talked about both the positives and negatives of living the community.
“I’ve met some amazing teachers and leaders who really just push me and motivate me whenever I need it,” said Josiah Frank, co-president of the M-PHS Black Student Union.
“Moving to Marysville there are a lot of people here willing to hear about certain topics I want to speak about and they’re willing to learn,” said Jenasis Lee, president of the Marysville Getchell Black Student Union.
JJ Frank, executive director of the Marysville YMCA and a local Black man, said that many in the community have been willing to work with him on anti-racism efforts.
He spoke positively of last summer’s March against Racism in response to the killing of George Floyd.
“Seeing the city of Marysville and Tulalip come together against racism was a really positive experience for me,” he said. “There’s always been issues around race and me battling racism, but what I have tried to do most of my career is work with those who are against racism."
There are still problems for Black people trying to live in the community though.
“It’s kind of sad we still have to see those naïve remarks being put on a group of people just because of the amount of melanin they have in their skin,” said Josiah Frank.
Lee said she has had her driver’s license for two years and got pulled over by police officers five times.
“I get followed around in grocery stores,” she said. “Sometimes you get called out by a teacher like ‘oh, Jenasis knows about this topic because she’s black.’”
Eneille Nelson, principal for Kellogg Marsh Elementary and the Marysville School District’s only Black principal, said she is originally from Mississippi where there were many more Black people.
“In this area you don’t see as many. Even with teachers. I came up with many African-American teachers in my career but here, rarely,” she said.
The fact that the Pacific Northwest is predominantly white can be hard, said Josiah Frank.
“It’s a lot different. There’s some friends that really don’t care about race, but I know there’s people that heavily rely on what race you are and judge you based on what race you are,” he said.
Individuals also reflected on Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to today’s society.
“It means I have the opportunity, and my kids have the opportunity, to be whatever they want to be,” said Nelson.
JJ Frank said it reminds him of the effort and fight required for change.
“A lot of people don’t realize Dr. King was jailed, he was stoned, he was stabbed and ultimately assassinated standing up against racism. So it does take a lot of sacrifice to stand against hate,” he said.
Alianna Banks, M-PHS Black Student Union co-president, also was hopeful with how much King was able to do.
“Just the fact that he was able to stand up for his people and how he affected everybody. It’s really heartwarming to see how much he did for everyone and just the rights he fought for,” she said.