Ritika Sharma is a 17-year-old student attending Denmark High School in Forsyth County, Georgia. As social media became a rallying and organizing outlet for thousands of students in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Sharma began sharing information on her personal Instagram about the racist past of her home county and the need to reform Georgia Studies, a mandatory eighth grade course across the state, to reflect this history. Soon after, in response to her posts, an Instagram account called “educationforequalityusa” sent her a direct message encouraging her to start a petition demanding changes to her school’s curriculum.
Inspired by the account, Sharma started a letter addressed to her school superintendent and board members of the Forsyth County School District asking the county and other schools located in Georgia to craft a comprehensive plan to address systemic racism, police brutality, and systems of privilege at all levels of education. Furthermore, the letter demanded that the plan go into effect this fall. Quickly, the petition gained traction with over 400 signatures from students, teachers, alumni, staff, and parents. “Social media is probably your best friend when it comes to spreading this message, because I know like five people,” Sharma tells Mic. “So to get the petition signed by like more than 400 was more than I expected.”
“I've already been through Georgia Studies and a lot of people my age and above who have been through this history class felt like, ‘Oh, it's too late,’” she adds. “But this is about future generations getting an accurate curriculum that is not biased and really talks about systemic racism and the different policies that hurt so many communities.”