Although the press was barred from covering them when they occurred, Evanston Township High School announced Tuesday that separate summits were held last week for its black students as part of its Social Consciousness Series.

In a news release, the school’s Communications Office said it hosted its first ever Black Female Summit on Sept. 29 and its second Black Male Summit on Oct. 1.

The fall summits, the release said, “focused on the unique yet diverse lived experiences of students who identify as black women and black men.”

The release said that nearly 1,000 students in all grade levels participated in the summits, “which included networking activities, breakout sessions, and panel discussions.”

When Evanston Now requested access to cover the summits, Evangeline Semark, director of communications and engagement, replied by email: “Thanks for reaching out. The Black Female and Black Male Summits are scheduled as student learning opportunities and therefore are viewed as an extension of the classroom. As such, a media presence is not appropriate.”

Video highlights of both summits have been uploaded to the school’s YouTube channel.


A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Separate but equal?

    Separate assemblies for black students, and separating even them by gender?  Are there not Asian students or students with disabilities or Muslim students or even students who don't fit neatly into any boxes who need mentoring and inspiration?  Well, they won't get them at ETHS.  How can we possibly help all our students achieve their full potential if we only give them a boost if they fall within the right classification?  And how can we prepare our students to live and work in a multicultural world when we tell them that, to be the best they can be, they have to be separated into their "affinity groups"?  Affinity groups = people like yourself.  What we used to call segregation.   

    1. Identity

      To put it simply… separate but equal.  There has been an identity crisis in America with the term "African American".  Students need to be taught who they are and what the term means.  To identify with?  Most forms in America need to know who you identify with.  There is a question of identify when you are a mixture of all races.  The form of identify is a fact of visual appearance as being BLACK.  All black people are not black, in fact their are many who don't identify with being black at all.  There is a problem there as being accepted for who you are whether you are black, brown, blue or green. If in fact you are black, do you know any thing about Africa.  Most don't.  It is not taught in schools or in any religious environment.  Is there space open to the minds of thinking people to accept the truth. 

      1. Better done on a school holiday or weekend

        I'm not conceptually against this. An achievement gap exists and so throwing some ingenuity and creativity against this issue for as long as that gap exists has merit. I would just caution that if programs like this have a cost and are repeated year after year, some work should be done around evaluation. And asking the kids their opinion when they've been given the day off of school is not what I'm talking about. It does trouble me a little that they might be missing class for this. I'd prefer this be done on a school holiday or weekend.

    2. No. 1 Problem.

      Clearly race is the biggest problem facing the school.

      Why else would they use Title 1 funds to send School Board members to a race conference in Baltimore when the classroom budgets and funds for teachers professional development conferences have been cut?

      Privilege of power doesn't look in the mirror.

  2. A disturbing trend
    This is very disturbing. I cannot believe such behavior is permissible at a public high school. Every person and every culture is unique. We should not be separating kids and telling them that they have to look a certain way in order to be allowed to participate in any event. We should be focussing on bringing people together, not separating in to factions or clicks.

  3. Board’s goal? More consulting fees? More staffing?

    Surely more "us versus them" will further the Board and teachers goal of more funding and consultants for study of "why we are different and need to be handled with kid-gloves." They seem to want to separate each group and teach them no one outside of their community [race, ethnic, gender, social group, economic group, sexual preference] can understand them and thus each group looks down on the others and will discriminate against them. Someone wisely said those who succeed are 'actors' instead of victims who only focus on the past. 'Actors' realize the past and unfair treatment but recognize that living in the past does not help and instead do everything they can to make the future better by increasing their skills,,knowledge, school habits, work habits.

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