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Voices of Change: Black Main Line Speaks

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Photo courtesy of Black Main Line Speaks

The first part of an ongoing series about local organizations addressing racial inequities.

“The Main Line. Best known for its expensive stores, exotic cars, exclusive schools, and racism.”

With that provocative post, Black Main Line Speaks launched its Instagram account on June 11. Within three weeks, it had 20,000 followers. Its administrators post first-person testimonies from people of color who’ve experienced racism while attending Main Line schools. Private institutions are the focus of most posts.

Testimonies are anonymous to protect the identities of participants. In similar fashion, Black Main Line Speaks administrators made anonymity a condition of this interview. Here’s what that they will say: Its three organizers are people of color in their 20s who are recent graduates of Main Line private schools. They joined forces to launch the Instagram account because they believe that racism—implicit and overt—has afflicted private schools for centuries. Their goal is to provide a safe space for people of color to tell their stories.

But they want to be more than a repository for testimonies. “We want to create actionable change at the schools, hold them accountable and have justice for the students,” says one administrator.

What would that change look like? “We don’t have one plan for each school or one plan that fits all schools,” they say. “It’s about connecting students and alumni with administrators and discussing what their schools need to do.”

Administrators acknowledge that they don’t have a vetting process. Participants file their stories in Google Docs, and administrators post them in the order received. “If there’s false information, our community members will tell us, and we’ll take a story down,” one administrator says. “That hasn’t happened yet.”

So far, school officials have remained silent. “Some will tag us when they put out statements, but schools have not contacted us directly,” says an administrator. “If schools reach out to us, we’d be happy to respond. Our goal is to make Black voices heard.”

And Black Main Line Speaks organizers say there’s more to come: “The community is supporting us, and there’s clearly a need for a space to tell these stories. We have expansion coming soon.”

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