Students stage walkout at Illinois high school in protest over blackface videos

Video of  students from Homewood-Flossmoor High School wearing blackface sparked a 1,000-strong student walkout on April 30, 2019.

(CNN)About 1,000 students walked out of their Illinois high school on Tuesday after four male pupils wore blackface and made derogatory comments in videos posted to social media, school officials said.

The posts showed four white students wearing blackface and their Homewood-Flossmoor High School sweatshirts, according to CNN affiliate WLS. Another video also showed them going through a fast-food drive-through making disparaging remarks about African-American girls, WLS reported.
In protest of the videos and what they said was an underwhelming school response, students walked out of class at noon for several minutes and marched down the street.
"No place for blackface! No place for blackface!" the students chanted, CNN affiliate WGN video shows.
    In the past, white performers wore blackface as a way to mock African-Americans in minstrel shows as lazy, ignorant, cowardly or hypersexual. Its use today harkens back to that painful and demeaning history.
    The leadership of the public high school, located in Flossmoor, Illinois, about 30 miles south of Chicago, condemned the "poor decisions of a small group of students" in a letter to the community. School leadership also sent a special message to students over video and praised those who walked out.
    "We would like to applaud our students and staff members who participated. Our students were amazing and conducted themselves in a very peaceful and orderly manner," Superintendent Von Mansfield and Principal Jerry Lee Anderson said.
    In the short term, the school said it will be meeting for an "interactive conversation" with students on Wednesday. Longer term, the school leadership said a recent strategic plan includes diversity and cultural competency training for all staff and students.
    The district cannot legally share information about the students' discipline, the school said. Still, they emphasized that "the type of behavior these students displayed is not condoned by the school, and that we are doing everything possible to ensure that these students understand the ramifications of their actions and that appropriate consequences are received."
    In addition, the District 233 Board of Education for the high school crticized the highly offensive posts in a statement.
      "These students' unfortunate activities, which took place off campus, are unacceptable and do not meet the expectations we have of Homewood-Flossmoor students," the board said.
      "Homewood-Flossmoor High School will continue to stand against racism, and against insensitive and disrespectful behavior of any kind, and will take the appropriate and necessary actions to ensure that all students are respected, that our differences are embraced and that our unity is celebrated."