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Newark students call for better race dialogue after principal’s words during assembly

A group of students at Newark High School say they want a better dialogue within their school after an assembly meant to celebrate Black History Month turned sour.

Posts on various social media accounts describe the assembly on Wednesday as one to celebrate African-American students and black history. However, when Principal Thomas Roote took the stage, students say his words led to outrage by minority students at the school.

"He said, 'Can all of my colored students stand up and can we have a round of applause for them?,'” said Newark High School student Janaeya Emmanuel.

There were approximately 650 students attending the assembly, students estimate. About 40 of those students were racial minority students. During the assembly, students say Roote passed out several copies of the lyrics to the traditional African-American poem-turned-song "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" and called it the 'Negro National Anthem.' Many know it as the 'Black American National Anthem.' The NAACP referred to the poem as 'The Negro National Anthem' in 1918.

"He referred to himself and the other teachers as 'white leaders' and [us as] his 'colored students,'" Emmanuel added.

Outrage spread through the school – and online, according to students.

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