LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Tre Bruce started attending Pulaski Academy in 2008. He said right away he saw a difference in how students of color were treated.
“A kid had gotten into some trouble. He got in trouble with a white kid, a student,” said Bruce. “His punishment was worse than the other student, but they did the exact same thing.”
Bruce said he felt more included when he joined football.
He also ended up graduating from PA, but he said those feelings of racial bias he saw at the school never went away.
He decided to post on social media to see if other alumni felt this way.
“I just threw it out there to see what kind of response I would get back, and honestly, everything has been very positive. There is maybe one or two negative situations that doesn’t even matter with how far we’ve gotten in such little time,” Bruce said.
There was so much feedback that Bruce and other alumni decided to take action. They created a letter, in which they ask the school to address systematic racism.
Hundreds of alumni and current students have signed the letter in support and even add their own suggestions.
“That’s when I realized, maybe we can do something to make a change,” said Bruce.
The letter even includes acknowledging PA’s history of how the school began as a white flight school during the push for segregation of the Little Rock School District.
“At PA, that’s something we should share. I feel at PA, I think they are afraid people will get upset for the history, but in a way, I think that shows progress,” said Bruce.
“You know, you have to educate people in order to change and not everyone is going to want to change, but you can at least give them the opportunity,” said Bruce.
The PA President responded to the current state of our nation.
He said in part, “We emphatically denounce racism and bigotry in all of their insidious forms. But we’ve learned that just saying it is not enough. In fact, we have learned that such well-intended approaches may even mask the continuation of injustice, and push bigotry beneath the surface. We are committed to engaging in open, honest dialogue with our PA Community to discuss and learn how we do better.”
We reached out to Pulaski Academy President Matt Walsh for an interview, but we never got a response.
Bruce plans to give the president the letter sometime next week.