TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuscaloosa County Superintendent Keri Johnson is speaking out about Hillcrest High School students walking out of class in protest Wednesday.  

More than 200 students staged a walkout Wednesday during classes. They claimed the school administration would not allow them to talk about slavery or the civil rights movement during their Black History Month program coming up in a few weeks. 

Johnson said Thursday those claims are false.

“Upon investigation, we found that no students have been told that anything had to be left out of the program, and as a matter of fact, it is a student-led program that was designed by students,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she respects the students’ right to peacefully protest but wants the community to know Black history is celebrated and taught in the classroom. She said she wants the students to be connected to their community and culture and doesn’t want anyone to leave out who they are when they come to school.

“We teach all about Black history over the different time periods, and we teach about history in our history classes,” Johnson said. “And we teach all history from the beginning of time until now, and we don’t leave anything out.”

Jamiyah Brown is a senior at Hillcrest who participated in the protest.

“It’s very upsetting,” Brown said. “I want to know why they felt like that and why they feel like they can put a hold on my expression on my culture. We are not allowed to talk about civil rights or Black Panthers or slavery.”

The Tuscaloosa Chapter of the NAACP and many students are planning to take this issue to the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education during the next meeting.