Emanuel Barrett is a senior at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn. Emanuel serves as the co-founder and president of Tearing Down the Walls (TDW) club at his school. TDW promotes constructive conversations about race relations, respect for any and all sexual orientations, and social justice. Its mission is to create action through conversation by inviting all-school speakers, hosting monthly discussions, contributing to the school paper and organizing events such as panel discussions, often collaborating with other schools in the Nashville area. Since TDW is a student-led organization, it values empowering the voices of students to unify the community. Emanuel has organized events such as a religion panel, Asian American cultural panel, and gender equality panel to highlight different issues involving marginalized communities. Emanuel's club has also developed programming for Black History Month for his school in February with performances by Black students and faculty, presentations on Black historical figures, and two speakers. In addition, Emanuel helped the librarian curate a slideshow of important events in Black history to display on TV screens throughout campus. Another central aspect of TDW is how it brings speakers to the school to share their experiences and educate the student body, such as the Senior Director of Procter & Gamble Eric Austin to discuss implicit bias, or Claude Gatebuke, who survived the Rwandan Genocide to talk about systemic injustice. By providing a floor for these discussions, the culture of Emanuel's community can shift to one that’s about understanding and respecting differences. TDW has 239 members, which is the largest club at his school. TDW positively impacts a lot of people ranging from 100+ at events to 800 people during an all-school assembly. Initiatives like these are just a few examples of how TDW pushes these conversations of diversity and inclusion to the forefront. Emanuel hopes to leave TDW with a strong legacy for younger students to take charge and continue broadening the club outside of the school's community.
2021 – TENNESSEE (NASHVILLE REGION)