The Education of Jesse Hagopian

Erin Middlewood, writing for The Progressive magazine, flew out to Seattle just before the end of the last school year. She spent an afternoon with me in my classroom and then accompanied me that evening to our Black Student Union senior awards banquet that my students had organized to honor our graduating black leaders.

Below is the link to the essay Erin wrote, “The Education of Jesse Hagopian” about my political development and activism.  Most importantly, the essay focuses on the intersection of the opt out movement against high-stakes testing and the Black Lives Matter movement.  It is my hope that these two movements increasingly unite into a great social force that can transform public education and bring down the institutions of racism.
A Seattle police officer pepper sprays Jesse Hagopian at a Martin Luther King Day rally.
By Erin Middlewood
Pepper spray seared Jesse Hagopian’s face and tears streamed from his eyes. He had just given a speech at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, on January 19 in Seattle. In keeping with tradition, the thirty-third annual event began in the gymnasium of Garfield High School, where Hagopian himself attended school and now teaches history. He presented plaques to students who were leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. After the ceremony, 10,000 people marched toward downtown.

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