Milwaukee Lutheran High condemns Black Lives Matter, students call out racist school culture

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Former students are speaking out about racism at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.

Their words come after social media posts from the school about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The school said it supports Black Lives and families, but many students say that doesn't match the school’s culture. 

Montravius Berry graduated from Milwaukee Lutheran High School in 2015.

“I think what they’re not understanding is that we’re trying to focus on the you saying 'you support the Black lives,' but you’re just saying it and not really showing it," Berry said.

Berry created a video of alumni saying they experienced racism within the school

They hope administrators will finally listen to them, and to current students.

“It was an ongoing fight, not just with the administration in the building but with the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee, as well," MLHS alum (2004) Dr. Monique Liston said.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the school supported a recent Black Lives Matter mural by its art teacher and students. But it also denounced the broader organization, for one, citing religious views.

“In that statement they made it very clear that not all Black Lives matter just the ones we agree with, and a life is not something to agree with," Liston.

Berry said the racism he felt was mostly among students.

He recalled a time when his basketball team won a game in gym his sophomore year.

“One of the white students goes, ‘of course you won, you had the monkey on your team,'" he said.

Cole Braun, CEO of the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee, replied to CBS 58's request for comment.

He said that they condemn the sin of racism and have started conversations with 15 teachers, staff and administrators of color over the summer.

"We developed plans to revamp and improve curriculum, we had and have planned genuine and open discussions to allow our faculty to all understand race issues and sensitivity as they come back for pre-school meetings, and we had already developed a Student Advisory group that was going to meet with me several times a year so they would have a direct voice to me," Braun wrote.

One current student told CBS 58 that Black History was not taught, at times, in classes. To this, Braun replied: "As a result of our summer meetings, we have implemented a much more in depth and robust curriculum related to Black History. Black History was taught in the past but not to this depth."

Braun also sent this statement to CBS 58:

"A message of hope from the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee,

We can have hope and peace in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is important for us to state that in alignment with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee (LHSAGM) condemns the sin of racism in all of its manifestations. 

This message of hope comes from our core.  The LHSAGM is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  We believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the literal interpretation of God’s Word as it applies to our lives in service to others.  The issue of systemic racism is front and center in our discussions and must be addressed in our country. At the LHSAGM, we rely fully on Mark Chapter 12: verses 30-31 which was also this year’s school theme.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no greater commandment than these.” 

To us, love your neighbor as yourself is exhibited in how we communicate with one another and how we handle our relationships.  We value relationships that are marked by care, dignity, humility and integrity and that are Grace filled. We value communication with our neighbors that are honest, respectful and clear.  We also believe that we should emulate Jesus’s love for others in all situations. 

We also value growth and we have so much to learn.  We need to listen, learn, ask questions and pray so we can grow as a school, a community, and a country. We need to continue to build a safe and compassionate future for our students, our faculty, and our teachers.  All of this starts with meaningful dialogue and prayer, which has already begun. 

Especially in these times of uncertainty and unrest, we can have hope.  Our hope is found in Jesus, who loves you and who loves me.  He loves us so much that He died on the cross for us.  We will continue to faithfully seek God’s will in all that we do and will work to deliver a culturally sensitive and responsive school culture at our three high schools and our Association as well as a safe and socially aware teaching environment and student learning experience. 

“You are a child of God. You are wonderfully made, dearly loved, and precious in His sight.”  Psalm 139."

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