The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

FEATURE: Can We Comeback?

Free State’s “Can We Talk” group comes back after four years
Photo collected from Sarah Podrasky.

Founded during the 2000s, the African/African-American diversity group known as ‘Can We Talk’ [CWT] started its way into becoming a stepping stone for cultural awareness within the school but as members continue to come and sponsors change, the eagerness for the group starts to die down. This year, Free State security guard: Demetrius “Dee” Kemp, is attempting to bring the group back to life again from scratch.

After the 2019 members graduated and COVID hit, CWT took a break from running the group to accurately plan their next move. The spark that brought the thought of bringing CWT back to Free State started with Kemp noticing the racial injustice many faced not only inside of the school but also worldwide. 

“Race relations were nowhere near what it should have been and I felt like our students were a bit mistreated.” Kemp vocalizes.

The dynamic of the group is to focus on having the African American voice heard while being an outlet for students that feel like they’re not treated fairly. Kemp saw it as a personal mission to create a safe space for the African/African-American students of Free State to share their concerns and to be treated with fairness.

To provide a clean transition for new members, Dee Kemp picked out a few respected seniors and outgoing juniors to create an energetic and welcoming atmosphere. In most groups, the possibility of being excluded is a common misconception but that’s something hard to find in CWT considering that all the members are friends, a part of the same sports team, and are willing to accept anyone with open arms.

“The diversity really helped me become comfortable with the group” Can We Talk’s treasurer Koree Shields shares, “It’s made me more confident knowing that I have people to back me up.”

The current students involved with the group and participating in their events are extremely enthusiastic to continue Can We Talk’s legacy and establish a firm foundation so incoming students can grow the inclusivity for many more years to come.

“Everyone wants to be heard,” Can We Talk’s president Maddison Stanford says “it’s great to see when your words and actions are able to come to light.”

Can We Talk takes the challenge of starting all over again with optimism as they commit to their desired vision of an inclusive community and shared diverse experiences.

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