Usable Knowledge Addressing Racism and Social Injustice Resurfacing the lessons of Ferguson, which continue to resonate today Posted June 16, 2020 By Emily Boudreau In a 2015 convening, the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked, “What strategies can educators use to promote justice, fairness, tolerance, and genuine communication in our schools and society?” The discussion came eight months after Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, was killed by a white police office in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking a campaign to confront racism and police violence. The conversation was moderated by Professor Paul Reville, director of the Education Redesign Lab, with panelists Tiffany Anderson, then the superintendent of the Jennings School District in Missouri; Tracey Benson, Ed.L.D.’16, now an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte; Ni’Cole Gipson, parent and social media activist; and Valeria Silva, former superintendent of St. Paul (Minnesota) Public Schools — all of whom offered insights on issues of race, inequality, and justice that resonate strongly today, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Here are a few highlights from that discussion. How Tiffany Anderson amplified student voice to make a difference The Jennings District is directly outside of Ferguson. In the days following the murder of Michael Brown, Anderson found a way to bring her students together and provided them with the resources they needed to advocate for themselves and their communities. Here, she talks about that experience. Tracey Benson on why schools are uniquely positioned to effect change and start the conversation Schools play a role in perpetuating systemic racism and inequality. Benson explains why schools also may have the power to disrupt that very system. Ni’Cole Gipson on why schools need to partner with families and communities to promote justice Gipson and other parents worked to create safe and loving spaces for Ferguson’s students. Here, she talks about her experience as a parent and the ways in which schools might better support the conversations she, as a black woman in America, needs to have with her son. Valeria Silva on the work school personnel and leadership must do to pave the way for discussion Racism often goes unnoticed because it’s engrained in the system of schooling. Silva talks about the work teachers and school leaders must do to be consciously anti-racist and uproot discriminatory practices. Additional Resources Harvard EdCast: Notes from Ferguson Exploring the historical roots of the enduring segregation that undermines urban schools. A teaching case inspired by Ferguson, Missouri, guides educators on how to explore the topic of race in class. Harvard EdCast: Unconscious Bias in Schools Usable Knowledge Connecting education research to practice — with timely insights for educators, families, and communities Explore All Articles Related Articles EdCast Creating Trans-Inclusive Schools The steps schools should take toward building more gender-inclusive school climates News Higher Ed. at Harvard Event Addresses Looming End of Affirmative Action A panel of three experts weighed in on what higher education can do in the wake of a pending Supreme Court ruling Ed. Magazine All They Need is L.O.V.E. Mentoring Latinas in New York City schools.