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HomeEducationScholar creators of ‘Know Justice, Know Peace’ podcast sue over trademark

Scholar creators of ‘Know Justice, Know Peace’ podcast sue over trademark


4 younger Black ladies who created a racial justice podcast and pushed Denver Public Faculties to diversify its curriculum sued the district Monday. They allege Denver Public Faculties unlawfully tried to trademark and steal the identify of their podcast — Know Justice, Know Peace — “figuring out full nicely the model identify was created by the scholars.”  

“Disgrace on DPS,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court docket on behalf of two graduates of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early Faculty highschool, Alana Mitchell and Jenelle Nangah, and two present college students who’re solely recognized by their initials as a result of they’re minors. 

In July 2020, because the nation reckoned with racial justice and police brutality within the wake of the homicide of George Floyd, the scholars launched their first podcast episode. They shared the historical past of the Fourth of July and Juneteenth holidays, and their very own experiences with racism.

“We needed folks to listen to our voices,” Nangah instructed Chalkbeat on the time.

The podcast — the total identify of which was Know Justice, Know Peace: DMLK’s The Take — attracted widespread media consideration, together with an look on The Right now Present. The scholars’ advocacy pushed the Denver college board to go a Know Justice, Know Peace decision ordering the district to diversify the curriculum. 

The scholars have been additionally named to an advisory board for an modern new U.S. historical past curriculum referred to as Black Historical past 365. They usually raised $14,000 to buy Black historical past books for fellow college students as a result of the district refused to pay for them, the lawsuit says.

Final month, greater than two years after the podcast began, Denver Public Faculties submitted state and federal purposes to trademark Know Justice, Know Peace. State data present the district registered the identify for the aim of “offering a podcast sequence providing details about inequities within the academic system and offering options.”

The district additionally took over all social media accounts associated to the podcast and altered the passwords, the lawsuit says.

Shortly thereafter, Denver Public Faculties Deputy Superintendent Tony Smith held a “last-minute” assembly with the scholars and their mother and father “to aim to coerce and bully [them] into admitting that DPS owns the trademark,” the lawsuit says. The scholars refused.

“Regardless of Smith’s and others’ ruthless makes an attempt to get Plaintiffs to confess DPS owned the mark (questioning that introduced the 17- to 19-year-olds to tears), the scholars didn’t waver,” the lawsuit alleges. “Plaintiffs at no time acknowledged DPS had any rights to their [intellectual property], nor did they relinquish their trademark rights to DPS.”

Denver Public Faculties declined to touch upon the lawsuit as a result of it’s nonetheless pending.

However a letter obtained by Chalkbeat by means of a public data request lays out a number of the district’s argument that it owns the identify. An lawyer for Denver Public Faculties despatched the letter to the previous principal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early Faculty, Kimberly Grayson, in August. Grayson was principal when the podcast was created however has since left the varsity. She didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Monday. 

The letter takes situation with a enterprise Grayson registered with the state referred to as Know Justice, Know Peace: The Take LLC. It calls for that Grayson cease utilizing the identify as a result of it belongs to Denver Public Faculties.

The letter says the podcast sequence was recorded on district property utilizing district tools. It additionally says the podcast was created “throughout the scope” of Grayson’s job as a principal, and that the scholars have been paid by Denver Public Faculties for his or her work on it.

Emails from Nangah and Grayson to district workers members that have been obtained as a part of the open data request point out that the scholars needed to document the podcast independently after Grayson left the varsity. In an e mail, Grayson wrote that’s why she filed the LLC.

She additionally wrote that it was contradictory for the district to say it upholds fairness “whereas actually saying DPS OWNS 4 Black younger girls’ picture, voice, and content material.”

“That sounds very oppressive to me,” Grayson wrote. 

In a separate e mail, Nangah echoed that sentiment.

“I’m completely disgusted and in nice dismay,” the current graduate wrote to district workers and elected college board members in August. “It’s flabbergasting to see that in 2022, Black possession continues to be being threatened by folks in positions of energy.”

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, overlaying Denver Public Faculties. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.



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