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Voices of Change: Nya Jarbah, the Ardmore Protest

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Pictured: Nya Jarbah Photo courtesy of Nya Jarbah

By Davis Giangiulio

Part 4 of an ongoing series about local organizations addressing racial inequities.

It took just four days for Nya Jarbah and a team of students and alumni to organize a rally and march that could have a lasting impact on Lower Merion schools. The event drew nearly 1,500 people to Ardmore’s Vernon V. Young Memorial Park on June 7. They came together to support Black Lives Matter, spotlight racial inequities in Lower Merion Township, and honor Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

A recent Lower Merion High School graduate, Jarbah and fellow rally organizers want school officials to evaluate the curricula and the process by which teachers are hired. She organized the protest with several others, including Lower Merion teacher Taj Byrd and principal Sean Hughes.

And it has sparked change at Lower Merion. Newly formed committees of students, teachers and parents will be working with the school board to adopt reforms. “They’re talking about adding an African-American literature class and an African-American history class,” says Jarbah, who begins her freshman year at Temple University this fall, with hopes of becoming a civil rights attorney. “They’re also talking about changing the hate speech policy.”

Jarbah has three younger siblings in the Lower Merion’s school district, so she knows that any changes will impact her family for years to come.