Student organizes Race Against Racism in Montpelier

By  | 

MONTPELIER, Vt. "I think the racial divide has always been here."
Sophomore Hope Petraro is not afraid to speak her mind and she is trying to get more people talking.

"There isn't really an active dialogue around race in Vermont perhaps because race doesn't hold the same relevance always to white people," Petraro says.

Petraro organized the Race Against Racism. A 5K run and walk raising money for various social justice groups around Vermont.

Heather Mclane, a social studies teacher at Montpelier High School helped Petraro organize the event, which brought over 200 people to the high school.

"It's been a lot of work, she's had to balance a lot between school and sports and this but it’s amazing," Mclane said.

After the race runners gathered to listen to speakers talk about the importance of discussing race in their own communities.

Patty Heather-Lea came out in support of the event, and praised the drive of the young people in her community.

"They're in touch with how important it is to live with each other and treat each other with respect, and racism is a big issue in our lives." says Heather-Lea.

This all comes just a week after racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was spray painted in several locations around the Northeast Kingdom; and as the investigation continues into an alleged assault of a bi-racial boy in New Hampshire.

Petraro says Vermont's capital city is the perfect spot to address difficult issues, in a positive way.

"I think that in a community like Montpelier we've really grown to adjust and adapt to help actively counter what we've seen on social media and the news and in our own oval office," she says.

Petraro hopes people left feeling supported and motivated to continue talking about social justice and racial issues.

"I see the young people as our hope, our future I'm grateful," Heather-Lea says.