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Askwith Education Forum

Askwith Essentials: Black Educators and the Struggle for Justice in Schools

An exploration of how the voices of Black educators have contributed to the conversation in education — and how they have been silenced.

“…The first, most consistent, most broadly focused advocates for Black children were Black educators,” wrote Vanessa Siddle Walker in a 2013 Education Researcher article, in which she explored the ways in which Black educators advocated for their students in the years before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. And even as the implementation of the new law failed to live up to its promise of greater access and equity, these educators continued their fight for justice in American schools.

At the Askwith Forums on Thursday, March 28, Walker — president elect of American Education Research Association and professor of African Studies at Emory will look at the past, present, and future of these advocacy models and explore how the voices of Black educators have contributed to the conversation in education — and how they have been silenced.

>> Listen to the Harvard EdCast for a conversation with Vanessa Siddle Walker.  

Following her talk, Walker will explore the legacy of Brown and its pedagogical implications with Edith Bazile, president of The Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM), in a conversation moderated by HGSE Assistant Professor Jarvis Givens. The panelists will probe the intricacies of school desegregation in the wake of Brown and its lingering impact today, looking at ways that today’s teachers of color can use their predecessors’ experience to inform how they face issues of race and education.

“In a district whose student body is 86 percent Latino, Black, and Asian American, it is high time our students see themselves better reflected in the front of the room,” Bazile told the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. As the president of BEAM, Bazile works to ensure excellence in teaching and learning, provide a support network and resources for Black teachers, and strategizes about how to overcome barriers to students’ academic growth.

Groups like BEAM have an important role to play in thinking about educational reform. “Until we get back to the sort of strategic work and networking practiced by groups … it will be very hard to move forward with an agenda for equity in the schools,” Walker said in an interview with Phi Delta Kappan.

Askwith Education Forum

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