They were defending James Whitfield, the first Black principal ever to lead Colleyville Heritage High. His treatment by White district officials was the reason the teens had walked out of class. It was why they would stay outside for five hours in 93-degree heat that Thursday. It was why they would leave class again the next day to spend another five hours marching around campus chanting, “No more silence! No more lies! We will not be victimized!”
Whitfield’s job was in danger. Over the summer, White adults had accused the principal of embracing critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that argues racism in America is systemic. Critical race theory has become a target for conservatives around the country. Texas passed two controversial laws this year meant to ban any mention of it from public school classrooms.