Last week, Racial Justice NOW! officially completed it’s expansion outside of Ohio by hosting a planning meeting for the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. The meeting served as the official launch for RJN!’s DMV (Washington, D.C, Maryland, Virginia) chapter. Parents, students, teachers, and community members gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia to organize and plan for the February event. RJN! Director, H.A. Jabar, was well prepared with years of experience of hosting and organizing parent gatherings and events. The group met for about two hours and left with a plan of how they wanted the week of action to look.
RJN! will continue it’s work in education justice in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. For the past year, RJN! has operated a satellite office in the area and has developed many partners to continue building with. RJN! brings into the area, a model that was successful in Ohio to help organize and empower Black parents and families in the DMV!
The work in Ohio will continue with our four pillars series of organizing, advocacy, leadership development and policy. Parent organizer, Cameron Walker and others have been continuing the amazing work to support Black parents and students in Dayton. Next week she will be hosting the monthly parent organizing meeting with special guest Angela Davis, who will help launch our series to support and empower Black girls in Dayton schools.
“The first meeting was very influential and I think that many students should know about it and teachers should be able to tell their students because the issues are affecting them. They should know what is going on with their own education. The school system does not meet the 4 demands of BLM at School. The school system needs to implement what we are demanding for racial justice in education.”
-Mimi Johnson (student at Wilde Lake High School)
If you have questions please contact H.A. Jabar at email@example.com.
Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition of educators organizing for racial justice in education. We encourage all educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations to join our annual week of action during the first week of February each year.
During the 2017-2018 school year, from February 5 to 9, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist movements for a nationally organized week of action: Black Lives Matter at School. Educators in over 20 cities participated in this national uprising to affirm the lives of Black students, teachers, and families including, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and beyond.
In this era of mass incarceration, there is a school-to-prison-pipeline system that is more invested in locking up youth than unlocking their minds. That system uses harsh discipline policies that push Black students out of schools at disproportionate rates; denies students the right to learn about their own cultures and whitewashes the curriculum to exclude many of the struggles and contributions of Black people and other people of color; and is pushing out Black teachers from the schools in cities around the country. With this analysis educators in the BLM at School movement developed these demands for the movement:
1) End “zero tolerance” discipline, and implement restorative justice
2) Hire more black teachers
3) Mandate black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum
4) Fund counselors not cops
The lessons that educators taught during that week of action corresponded to the thirteen guiding principles of Black Lives Matter:
Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy and Loving Engagement
Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value
Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages
Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
The Black Lives Matter at School movement first started in Seattle during the fall of 2016, when thousands of educators in Seattle came to school on October 19th wearing shirts that said, “Black Lives Matter: We Stand Together.” Hundreds of families and students did too. Many of the shirts also included the message “#SayHerName,” a campaign to raise awareness about the often unrecognized state violence and assault of women in our country.
This action attracted national news, helping it spread to Philadelphia. That city’s Caucus of Working Educators’ Racial Justice Committee expanded the action to last an entire week that year with teaching points around the principles of Black Lives Matter. Educators in Rochester, New York also held a Black Lives Matter at School day in 2017.