The national Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action from February 6-10 is fast approaching. Thousands of teachers will be reaching hundreds of thousands of students with antiracist teaching activities. Students across the country will be organizing demonstrations, assemblies, forums, and talent shows. Parents and community organizers will be helping to build rallies and supporting efforts to create policy changes designed to dismantle structural racism.
Many in the BLM at School movement will be sporting the new 2023 week of action t-shirt featuring a design and statement by 6th Grade student Niles. Many will be joining national on-line events during the week of action. Many will donate funds to help sustain this grassroots movement. Many will be joining the online D.C. Area Black Lives Matter at School Curriculum Fair on Saturday, January 21 from 11:30AM-2:30PM ET. Many will join the Young, Gifted, and Black Student Talent Showcase at Franklin High School (and viewable online). Many students will be participating in the 2023 Creative Challenge, creating a piece of art that answers the question, “How can a school community support you in being unapologetically Black?” And many will be using lesson plans from the newly created BLM at School Curriculum Resource Guide. Besides the national events for the Week of Action, many cities, such as Seattle, are hosting their own local programing (to register your events, click this link and scroll to the bottom).
The Week of Action comes at a critical time in the history of U.S. education. To date, some 42 states have introduced legislation or enacted polices that seeks to require teachers to lie to students about structural racism, many of them also demanding dishonesty about sexism as well. Eighteen states have actually imposed these anti-history laws, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. PEN America released a study in August of 2022 which showed that 36 states introduced some 137 of these gag order bills over the course of the year, a 250% increase from 2021. A January of 2022 study revealed that 84 of these anti-history bills target K-12 schools, 38 target higher education, and 48 include a mandatory punishment for educators found in violation of the law.
Yet the problem isn’t just the statewide bans. Even in states where truthful teaching about racism and oppression has not yet been forbidden, individual school districts have nonetheless enacted history bans. To be clear, truthful teaching about racism isn’t only being ambushed in the South or only in red states. As the CRT Forward Tracking Project out of the UCLA Law School explained,
…the assault on CRT has infiltrated nearly every state, conservative and liberal alike, including California where local school boards have enacted more anti-CRT measures at different school boards than any other state in the country…. In Colorado, 100% of the local school board anti-CRT measures have been enacted, while neither of the proposed legislative anti-CRT measures were enacted. In Rhode Island, since 2021, 100% of local school board anti-CRT measures have been enacted, while four anti-CRT legislative measures are still pending. In Pennsylvania, at least six local school board anti-CRT measures have been enacted across four different school boards, while none of the state’s anti-CRT legislative measures have been enacted. In Washington state all three anti-CRT measures have been limited to the local school board level. Two have been enacted.
If you have ever wondered what you would have done during the Cold War McCarthy era when teachers were being fired around the country for any teaching that allowed students to question racism, inequality, or American policy, now is your chance to find out as we are facing similar conditions. I hope that you will consider joining the side of the antiracist struggle to #TeachTruth about Black history and structural racism.
Below is more information about how to join the Black Lives Matter at School movement!
[i] https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/map-where-critical-race-theory-is-under-attack/2021/06, accessed, November 6, 2022.
[ii] https://pen.org/press-release/educational-gag-order-proposals-spike-by-250-in-2022-pen-america-reports/, accessed September 20, 2022.
[iii] https://pen.org/steep-rise-gag-orders-many-sloppily-drafted/, accessed July 29, 2022.
2023 Week of Action
February 6 – 10
M – F
Write Night with Free Minds Book Club
- Writing workshop exploring the poetry of incarcerated youth, as part of our commitment to attend to systems and networks of care to make the domination, erasure, and dehumanization of Black life obsolete. – Registration Link
Celebrating Globalism and Collective Value Panel
- Speakers from different countries will talk about the importance of valuing Black life and how it relates to us collectively, building authentic partnerships with all who support creating equitable school communities across the nation and around the globe. – Registration Link
HBCU Fair Youth Support
- Learn a bit about the unapologetically Black history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and currently what they offer from students. – Registration Link
Imagination Lab Listening Project
- A collective imagination exercise in which we open-heartedly dream up safe schools, communities, and futures. – Registration Link
- Optional Pre-Reading: A Grassroots-Driven Quality of Life Platform ( Full | 2 pager )
Black Joy Party Connection Space
- A space to be your authentic self, celebrate, and be in community! To collectively love and care for one another as extended intergenerational families. – Registration Link
Please register seperately for each event. We want to know who is in community with us, both for relationship-building and safety. You will receive the Zoom link for each offering 2-3 days before the event. Thank you for your understanding and patience. We are available at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Student Creative Challenge
How can a school community support you in being unapologetically Black?
Our unapologetically Black principles states, “We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. to love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for the others.”
We invite you to submit a creative response including but not limited to drawing, painting, collage, poetry, song/rap, or any other type of expression. Please submit your response by Sunday, February 12th, to bit.ly/BLMAS23Challenge or bit.ly/BLMAS23ChallengeGF.
By submitting your response, you are granting us permission to include your response in a video showcase on February 18th as part of Unapologetically Black Day. Please include any information you want us to share publicly, such as your name, grade, state, and title or description of the work.
To see the video showcase, check our our website or follow us on social media. If you have any questions, send us an email at email@example.com
Curriculum Resource Guide 2.0
We are re-launching! Use our NEW resource guide to help prepare for the Week of Action: bit.ly/blmatschoolguide
Congratulation Niles!! Purchase a 2023 T-shirt featuring his design and artist statement for the Week of Action. Includes shipping!