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MPS sophomore wins districtwide Black Lives Matter T-shirt design contest

BLM Tshirt Contest D’Zariah Walker, a sophomore at Vincent School of Agricultural Science, thought about her own experiences and the experiences of others as she drew her winning entry for this school year’s Black Lives Matter T-shirt.  

D’Zariah received a plaque and a $100 gift card for winning the contest, which was open to all MPS students. Ingrid Walker-Henry, MTEA Vice President, presented D’Zariah with her prizes in the newly renovated Vincent library. Others present included Dr. Jennifer Smith, MPS Regional Superintendent for high schools; Felice Beal, MPS instructional leadership director for the East Region and Black Lives Matter Week of Action organizer; and Vincent Principal Heidi Zealley. 

D’Zariah also is receiving four shirts with her winning design, which shows the phrases “Stand Together,” “No Racism,” “Peace and Justice,” and “#NoJusticeNoPeace” woven around an uplifted arm that is breaking through chains, to denote freedom.  

BLM Tshirt Contest LogoThe annual contest is sponsored by Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. 

The winner said she was inspired by two of her teachers, Heidi Maciejewski and Dennis Robinson, and reflected on aspects of life as a Black person for her drawing.   

“People start judging just because of our skin” or clothing, simply when walking through a store or into a restaurant, D’Zariah said.  

“We got strength. We can do anything. We can survive anything,” D’Zariah said.  

“We can do things that everybody thinks we can’t.” 

D’Zariah started working on the design at school but was dissatisfied with it and continued at home at night. She draws only when inspiration strikes, and “when I have my quiet space and time. Then you can focus on the details,” she said. 

“It’s also good to get everybody’s opinion,” she said. She likes to ask others: What do they like about her drawings? How do the drawings make them feel? 

BLM Tshirt Contest WinnerD’Zariah, who hopes to go to art school and study acting, planned to display her plaque at home, and soon she will be seeing students and MPS employees throughout the district wearing her design. 

Schools and departments had the opportunity to order the T-shirts in advance of Black Lives Matter Week of Action, which will be February 5-9 this year. Check back for an announcement soon about the week’s activities. 


Stephen Davis, Media Relations Manager
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