Rising 2L Sydney Goggins Advocates for Racial Justice in Her Former School District
Rising 2L Sydney Goggins last month launched a petition on Change.org “[d]emanding racial justice” from the Minnesota school district in which she attended high school. (The district serves the cities of Carver, Chanhassen, Chaska and Victoria.) In just a week, she collected 1,228 signatures. Her story, along with those of a number of activists involved in anti-racist education reform efforts, was recently reported by MinnPost. In a Q&A with Minnesota Law, Goggins, a 2020 Human Rights Center fellow, reflects on her activism and how it connects to her aspirations and view of leadership.
What inspired you to launch the Change.org petition?
I originally saw a template for the letter on another activist’s Instagram page (@ankita_71). She offered the template for other activists to send to their school districts. In a moment where I was participating in marches, protests, signing petitions, and calling local officials it felt like action on a more local level was necessary. The letter seemed like an effective way to implement change locally.
How did you collect more than 1,000 signatures in a week?
I posted the petition on my Instagram page and from there many people shared it on their own social media. It grew quickly but I wanted to take action as fast as possible so cut it off after a week.
What other forms of activism have you engaged in?
I have been engaged in activism since a young age. When I was a senior in high school I attended my first Black Lives Matter protest for Philando Castille’s murder. Now, four years later, I am in the same streets marching, protesting, making calls to officials, writing letters and emails, and volunteering for various non-profit organizations working on police accountability.
What do you hope to accomplish with the petition and letter to the superintendent?
My goal is to accomplish the five action items listed in the letter which includes:
- making social justice and racial equity a Core Value of the district,
- releasing a plan for recruiting, hiring, and retaining educators of color,
- reviewing the Social Studies curriculum to ensure accurate historical and contextual teaching on social and racial injustice and privilege,
- planning and implementing professional development for all staff on implicit bias, racial equity, and inclusive curriculum, and
- assessing the Equity Team to ensure it is collaborative and racially diverse.
What does being a lawyer-leader mean to you?
Being a lawyer-leader in this present moment takes on a new meaning. It is crucial that as law students we use our education and privilege to educate others, protest, and make important changes where we can. We are given the tools to change the system in law school and now is the time to put those to task.
What would you ultimately like to do with your law degree?
Upon graduation, I hope to practice human rights law. I want to work with marginalized communities by providing direct assistance and a microphone to those with intersecting identities.
What message would you like to convey to your fellow law students about getting involved in the cause of racial justice?
To my fellow law students I say that we need to use our privilege whether that is race, education, gender, etc. to get people’s attention. I am a white, cisgender woman with a college degree and I can use my platform to put a spotlight on issues that may not otherwise be discussed by predominantly white institutions. We have the knowledge and the power to make change.