Joyce Kenner, principal of Chicago’s Whitney Young High School, refused to leave her position after calls for her to step down for her condemnation of rioting in the city.
She called for students to avoid participating in violent acts during George Floyd protests. Nevertheless, she also voiced support for students participating in peaceful demonstrations. Kenner was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement as a worker for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Speaking to reporters, she made it clear that her rejection of violence in no way limited her support for black lives.
My father served 11 years in prison. If I don’t understand about black people and oppression, nobody else does, Nobody can tell me … I don’t support the cause or that I don’t understand the cause.
Kenner’s successful management of a culturally diverse High School coincides to her appreciation of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite calls for her removal, Principal Kenner remains committed to her commitment to social empowerment through education.
I see this story as a textbook example of how to create spaces for dialogue without compromising institutional integrity.