Tag Archives: Black Education Matters

What We Don’t Learn About the Black Panther Party—but Should

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By Adam Sanchez and Jesse Hagopian, first published at the Zinn Education Project

Fifty years ago this month, the Black Panther Party was born. Its history holds vital lessons for today’s movement to confront racism and police violence, yet textbooks either misrepresent or minimize the significance of the Black Panthers.

bpp_newspaper_collage-501x550The first issue of the Black Panther newspaper, which at its height had a weekly circulation of 140,000 copies, asked, “WHY WAS DENZIL DOWELL KILLED?” Helping Dowell’s family demand justice in Richmond, California, was one of the first major organizing campaigns of the Black Panther Party. Anyone reading the story of Denzil Dowell today can’t help but draw parallels to the unarmed Black men and women regularly murdered by the police. The disparity between the police’s story and the victim’s family’s, the police harassment Dowell endured before his murder, the jury letting off Dowell’s killer, even the reports that Dowell had his hands raised while he was gunned down, eerily echo the police killings today that have led to the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yet when we learn about the early years of the Panthers, the organizing they did in Richmond—conducting their own investigation into Dowell’s death, confronting police who harassed Dowell’s family, helping mothers in the community organize against abuse at the local school, organizing armed street rallies in which hundreds filled out applications to join the party—is almost always absent. Armed with a revolutionary socialist ideology, as the Panthers grew, so did what they organized around. They fought in Black communities across the nation for giving the poor access to decent housing, health care, education, and much more.

This local organizing that Panthers engaged in has been erased in the textbooks, yet it is precisely what won them such widespread support. By 1970, a Market Dynamics/ABC poll found that Black people judged the Panthers to be the organization “most likely” to increase the effectiveness of the Black liberation struggle, and two-thirds showed admiration for the party. Coming in the midst of an all-out assault on the Panthers from the white press and law enforcement, including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s claim that the Panthers were “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” this support is remarkable.

The Textbook Version of the BPP

A few of the major textbooks don’t even mention the Black Panthers, while most give the organization only a sentence or two. Even the small number that do devote a few paragraphs to the party, give little context for their actions and distort their ideology.Textbooks often associate the Panthers bpp_sicklecellenemiatesting-335x224with violence and racial separatism. For example, Teacher Curriculum Institute’s History Alive! The United States reads,

Black Power groups formed that embraced militant strategies and the use of violence. Organizations such as the Black Panthers rejected all things white and talked of building a separate black nation.

While ignoring that the Panthers believed in using violence only in self-defense, this passage also attempts to divide the Panthers from “nonviolent” civil rights groups. The Panthers didn’t develop out of thin air, however, but evolved from their relationships with other civil rights organizations, especially the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The name and symbol of the Panthers were adopted from the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), an independent political organization SNCC helped organize in Alabama, also called the “Black Panther Party.” Furthermore, SNCC allied with the Panthers in 1968 and while the alliance only lasted five months, it was a crucial time for the growth of the Panthers.

The passage from History Alive! also incorrectly paints the Panthers as anti-white, erasing their important work building multiracial coalitions. Most famously, Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton organized the Rainbow Coalition including the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the Young Patriots—a group of poor Southern white migrants. The Black Panthers helped the Patriots set up their own community service programs. In California, the Panthers made an important alliance with the mostly white Peace and Freedom Party. The Peace and Freedom Party ran Eldridge Cleaver for President in 1968 in an attempt to provide an antiwar, anti-racist alternative to the Democratic Party. An editorial in the Black Panther explained: “The increasing isolation of the black radical movement from the white radical movement was a dangerous thing, playing into the power structure’s game of divide and conquer.”

Some textbooks erase the socialist character of the Black Panther Party. Holt McDougal’s The Americans, reads, “Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded a political party known as the Black Panthers to fight police brutality in the ghetto.” While the textbook later acknowledges other things the Panthers advocated, by reducing the reason for their founding to fighting police brutality, The Americans profoundly diminishes the important ideological basis of the party. More clearly than any other national civil rights organization, the Panthers linked the fight against racism with the fight against capitalism. As Newton explained in The Black Panther, reprinted in The Black Panthers Speak, “We realize that this country became very rich upon slavery and that slavery is capitalism in the extreme. We have two evils to fight, capitalism and racism. We must destroy both.” The Panthers understood that Black people could not achieve socialism on their own and their work building multiracial anti-capitalist coalitions flowed from that analysis. In fact, the Panthers developed an education requirement for joining the party that consisted of reading 10 books relating to Black liberation and socialism.

Several textbooks also blame the Panthers for the end of the Civil Rights Movement, while ignoring or downplaying the role the FBI played in destroying the party. In a later section in The Americans, the authors write, “Public support for the civil rights movement declined because some whites were frightened by the urban riots and the Black Panthers.” What textbooks like this fail to mention, is the decline in public support was a result of the counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) of the FBI. According to scholar Ward Churchill in Agents of Repression:

. . . the Black Panther Party was savaged by a campaign of political repression, which in terms of its sheer viciousness has few parallels in American history. Coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation . . . and enlisting dozens of local police departments around the country, the assault left at least 30 Panthers dead, scores of others imprisoned after dubious convictions, and hundreds more suffering permanent physical or psychological damage. Simultaneously, the party was infiltrated at every level by agents provocateurs, all of them harnessed to the task of disrupting its internal functioning. Completing the package was a torrent of “disinformation” planted in the media to discredit the Panthers before the public, both personally and organizationally, thus isolating them from potential support.

With minimal and problematic coverage in the history textbooks, there is little curriculum for teachers hoping to provide students with the crucial history of the Black Panther Party.

Teaching the Panthers Through Role Play

To try to give students a fuller picture of the party’s history, we wrote a mixer activity in which each student takes on a role of someone who was in or connected to the Black Panthers. The roles give students a thumbnail sketch of that person’s biography along with details that help illuminate aspects of the party. We tried to emphasize why people joined the Black Panther Party. For example, the role of Kathleen Cleaver begins:

As a young Black woman growing up in Alabama in the 1950s, you wanted to challenge injustice. You were inspired by powerful women leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). . . . These women were creating a social revolution in the Deep South and all worked with SNCC. . . . In 1966, you went to organize in SNCC’s New York office and then to Atlanta. You had joined SNCC at the time it took up the slogan “Black Power,” and you saw the Black Panther Party as taking the positions SNCC was headed toward. . . . You decided to move to San Francisco and join the Panthers.

Students also meet Ruby Dowell, Denzil Dowell’s sister who joined the party after the organizing the Panthers did in Richmond.

We also tried to highlight the repression the Panthers faced along with some of the lesser known, but important stories of Panther community organizing. The role for Lumumba Shakur, founder of the New York Black Panther Party chapter, explains how the entire New York Panther leadership was arrested on flimsy evidence. The role continues:

. . . you spent two years in prison while the trial proceeded. You organized prisoners to fight for better living conditions and at one point took control of the jail from the prison guards. You demanded and received bail hearings for every prisoner. Hundreds of prisoners were released as a result of the new hearings.

Students also encounter Panther allies in the Young Patriots, the American Indian Movement, the Brown Berets, and the Young Lords. They also meet Panther “enemies” like FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and Los Angeles police officer Pat McKinley.

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Children at the Intercommunal Youth Institute.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the Panthers we tried to highlight was their role in the struggle for anti-racist education. In Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, historian Donna Murch details how the Panthers had their origins in “Agitation for Black Studies courses and debates about the ‘relevance’ of education,” and describes the membership of Panthers as “Composed largely of Southern migrants under 25, including many students recruited from local high schools and community colleges. . . .” The Panthers were formed out of a study group at Oakland’s Merritt College. The Panthers’ belief in the need for an education beyond what was being taught in the school system led them to develop a network of liberation schools for youth.

We hope the mixer we wrote, Wayne Au’s lesson on the Panthers’ Ten Point Program, and Ursula Wolfe-Rocca’s lesson on COINTELPRO, can be starting points for educators who hope to arm a new generation with the story of the Panthers. As the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party draws new attention to the organization, these lessons should be just a few of many to come that help teachers and students explore this rich—and too often ignored—history.

Adam Sanchez, Zinn Education Project Organizer and Curriculum Writer | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryJesse Hagopian | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryAdam Sanchez and Jesse Hagopian are editors of Rethinking Schools magazine. Sanchez teaches at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, and works as curriculum writer and organizer with the Zinn Education Project. Hagopian teaches at Garfield High School in Seattle, and is the editor of More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing (Haymarket Books, 2014).

Editor’s note: The mixer role play will be posted on the Zinn Education Project later this school year.

Thousands of Seattle teachers wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school. Here’s what it looked like.

The #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool event in Seattle yesterday was breathtaking.

Never before in the country has an entire district of educators risen up to declare that Black lives matter. It’s hard to even put into words the power of this event. It has been reported that 2,000 teachers wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school across the district–in fact, the number was much larger than that.  That is the number of shirts that were ordered from the Social Equality Educators, however, many schools made their own shirts. Families made buttons and distributed them to schools.  Some parents set up informational booths in front of their school with resources for teaching about racism. There was a joyous atmosphere around the city.  Many educators around the city took the day to teach students developmentally appropriate lessons about institutional racism and hold dialogues about Black lives matter.

There is so much work left to be done to make Black Lives truly matter at school. But at the rally for Black lives at lunchtime at my high school, Garfield, something happened that let everyone know that change is already happening.

One of our teachers, Janett Du Bois, revealed to everyone in the middle of our rally that the police had murdered her son a few years ago. No one at our school knew about this. It was in that moment of seeing everyone wearing  Black Lives Matter shirts that she found the strength to tell her story. Her bravery to go public with this has changed Garfield forever.  I am so glad that she no longer has to suffer alone with the pain. Here is a short news story that doesn’t do her full speech justice, but will give you a glimpse: http://www.king5.com/news/local/seattle/2000-seattle-teachers-to-wear-black-lives-matter-shirts/338419052

ABC provided national news coverage of our day and the amazing evening rally: http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/seattle-teachers-bring-black-lives-matter-school-42942387

Here is a link to some of the best photos taken of the day from a Seattle Public Schools parent, photographer, and author Sharon Chang: https://sharonhchang.com/blacklivesmatteratschool/

Below are just some of the photos of schools from around Seattle who participated in #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool:

Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool: Hundreds of professors across the country support Seattle educators in their day of action

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Over 200 scholars and professors nationwide sign statement in support of the Seattle teachers’ October 19,, 2016 action to make Black Students’ Lives Matter in the district. The support for making Black Lives Matter in our classrooms has been widespread, yet some around the nation have also responded with messages of hate and fear.  Dr. Wayne Au, Associate Professor in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington Bothell and an editor for the social justice teaching publication, Rethinking Schools, put out a call to professors and scholars to publicly tell the Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle School Board that many experts in the field of education and beyond support Seattle teachers. Below is the statement and the list of 212 names and affiliations as of October 17, 2016.

We, the undersigned professors and scholars, publicly express our support for and solidarity with teachers of Seattle Public Schools and their October 19, 2016 action in recognition of making Black Student Lives Matter in our schools. We hope that these teachers are continually supported by the district, the school board, their union, and parents in their struggle for racial justice in Seattle schools.

Name & Affiliation (for informational purposes only)

  1. Curtis Acosta, Education for Liberation Network & University of Arizona South
  2. Alma Flor Ada, Ph. D., Professor Emerita, School of Education, University of San Francisco
  3. Annie Adamian, Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico
  4. Jennifer D. Adams, Associate Professor Science Ed and Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY
  5. Tara L. Affolter, Assistant Professor, Middlebury College
  6. Jean Aguilar-Valdez, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University
  7. Lauren Anderson, Associate Professor of Education, Connecticut College
  8. Subini Annamma, Assistant Professor, Special Education, University of Kansas
  9. Zandrea Ambrose, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
  10. Nancy Ares, Associate Professor, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  11. Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  12. Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, Teacher Educator–Montclair State University; EdD student at Rutgers Graduate School of Education
  13. Rick Ayers, Asst. Prof of Education, U of San Francisco.
  14. William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired), University of Illinois Chicago
  15. Wayne Au, Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington Bothell
  16. Jeff Bale, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  17. Megan Bang, Associate Professor, learning Sciences and Human Development, Secondary Teacher Education
  18. Lesley Bartlett, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  19. Teddi Beam-Conroy, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program, University of Washington
  20. Lee Anne Bell, Professor Emerita, Barnard College
  21. John Benner PhC, University of Washington, College of Education
  22. Jeremy Benson, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Rhode Island College
  23. Dr Berta Rosa Berriz, Arts in Learning Division,Lesley University
  24. Dan Berger, Assistant professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  25. Margarita Bianco, associate professor, School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
  26. Anne Blanchard, PhD, Senior Instructor, Western Washington University.
  27. Whitney G. Blankenship, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies & History, Rhode Island College.
  28. Aaron Bodle, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, James Madison University
  29. Joshua Bornstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Felician University.
  30. Samuel Brower, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Houston
  31. Anthony Brown, Associate Professor, University of Texas Austin
  32. Kristen Buras, Associate Professor, Georgia State University
  33. Dolores Calderon, Associate Professor, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington university
  34. Timothy G. Cashman Associate professor, social studies education, University of Texas at El Paso
  35. Keith C. Catone, Principal Associate, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University
  36. Charusheela, Assistant professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  37. Minerva S. Chávez, Ph. D., Director, Single Subject Credential Program, Associate Professor, Department of Secondary Education, California State University, Fullerton
  38. Linda Christensen, Director Oregon Writing Project at Lewis & Clark College.
  39. Christian W. Chun, Assistant Professor of Culture, Identity and Language Learning, University of Massachusetts Boston
  40. Carrie Cifka-Herrera Ph.D. University California Santa Cruz
  41. Donna-Marie Cole-Malott, PhD candidate, Pennsylvania State University
  42. Ross Collin, Associate Professor of English Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  43. Rebekah Cordova, PhD, College of Education, University of Florida
  44. Chris Crowley, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Wayne State University
  45. Cindy Cruz, Associate Professor of Education, UC Santa Cruz
  46. Mary Jane Curry, University of Rochester
  47. Karam Dana, Assistant Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  48. Chela Delgado, adjunct faculty in San Francisco State University Educational Leadership graduate program
  49. Robert L. Dahlgren, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, SUNY Fredonia
  50. Noah De Lissovoy, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Texas at Austin
  51. Betsy DeMulder, Professor, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University
  52. Robin DiAngelo, Adjunct Faculty, University of Washington School of Social Work.
  53. Maurice E. Dolberry, PhD. Lecturer, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington-Bothell
  54. Michael J. Dumas, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley.
  55. Jody Early, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Washington Bothell
  56. Kimberly Early, adjunct faculty, Education department at Highline College & Applied Behavioral Science department at Seattle Central
  57. Education for Liberation
  58. Kathy Emery, PhD, Lecturer at San Francisco State University
  59. Joseph J Ferrare, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky
  60. Michelle Fine, Professor, City University of New York Graduate Center
  61. Liza Finkel, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Lewis & Clark College Graduate School of Education and Counseling
  62. Kara S. Finnigan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education Policy, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester
  63. Ryan Flessner, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Butler University
  64. Susana Flores, PhD Assistant Professor, Curriculum, Supervision and Educational Leadership at Central Washington University
  65. Kristen B. French, Associate Professor & Director, Center for Education, Equity and Diversity, Woodring College of Education, Western Washington University
  66. Victoria Frye, Associate Medical Professor, City University of New York School of Medicine
  67. Derek R. Ford, Assistant Professor of Education Studies, DePauw University
  68. Jill Freidberg, part time lecturer, Media and Communication Studies, University of Washington Bothell.
  69. James A. Gambrell, Assistant Professor of Practice, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University
  70. Arline García, Spanish Instructor, Highline College
  71. Mónica G. GarcíaAssistant Professor Secondary Education, California State University Northridge
  72. Brian Gibbs Assistant Professor of Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  73. David Goldstein, Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell.
  74. Julie Gorlewski, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
  75. Alexandro Jose Gradilla, Associate Professor, Chicana/o Studies, CSU Fullerton.
  76. Sandy Grande, Professor of Education and Director of the center for the comparative study of race and ethnicity, Connecticut College
  77. Allison Green, English Department, Highline College
  78. Kiersten Greene, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, State University of New York at New Paltz
  79. Susan Gregson, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Cincinnati
  80. Martha Groom, Professor, IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  81. Rico Gutstein, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
  82. Alyssa Hadley Dunn, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
  83. Amy Hagopian at University of Washington School of Public Health.
  84. Jessica James Hale, Doctoral Research Fellow, Mathematics Education, Georgia State University Elizabeth Hanson, ESL Professor, Shoreline Community
  85. May Hara, Assistant Professor, College of Education, Framingham State University
  86. Nicholas Hartlep, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN
  87. Jill Heiney-Smith, Instructor in Teacher Education, Director of Field Placements, Seattle Pacific University
  88. Mark Helmsing, Coordinator of Social Studies Education, University of Wyoming
  89. Kevin Lawrence Henry, Jr., Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies & Practice, College of Education, University of Arizona.
  90. Erica Hernandez-Scott, Master in Teaching Faculty, Evergreen State College
  91. Josh Iddings, Assistant Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies, Virginia Military Institute
  92. Ann M. Ishimaru, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
  93. Dimpal Jain, Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge
  94. Brian Jones, City University of New York, Graduate Center
  95. Denisha Jones, Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, Trinity Washington University
  96. Beth Kalikoff, Associate Professor, Univ. of Washington Seattle
  97. Richard Kahn, Core Faculty in Education, Antioch University Los Angeles
  98. Daniel Katz, Chair, Department of Educational Studies, Seton Hall University
  99. Mary Klehr, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education
  100. Courtney Koestler, Director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Math and Science, Ohio University
  101. Jill Koyama, Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Practice, University of Arizona
  102. Chris Knaus, Associate Professor, University of Washington Tacoma
  103. Matthew Knoester, Associate Professor, University of Evansville
  104. Rita Kohli, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside
  105. Ron Krabill, Associate Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  106. Patricia Krueger-Henney, Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, University of Massachusetts Boston.
  107. Saili Kulkarni College of Education Assistant Professor Cal State Dominguez Hills
  108. Scott Kurashige, Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  109. Gloria Ladson-Billings Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education UW-Madison
  110. Carrie Lanza, MSW and PhD, adjunct faculty, University of Washington Bothell
  111. Douglas Larkin, Associate Professor, Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University
  112. Alyson L. Lavigne, Associate Professor, College of Education, Roosevelt university
  113. Clifford Lee, Associate Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California
  114. Kari Lerum, Associate Professor, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Washington
  115. Pauline Lipman, Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois-Chicago
  116. Katrina Liu, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, University of Nevada Las Vegas
  117. Lisa W. Loutzenheiser, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
  118. David Low, Assistant professor of literacy education, California State University Fresno
  119. John Lupinacci, Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching & Learning, Washington State University
  120. Wendy Luttrell, Professor, Urban Education & Critical Social Psychology, Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center
  121. Aurolyn Luykx, Assoc. Professor of Anthropology & Education, University of Texas at El Paso.
  122. Sheila Macrine, Professor, Umass Dartmouth
  123. Tomás Alberto Madrigal, Ph.D., Tacoma Pierce County Health Department
  124. Jan Maher, Senior Scholar, Institute for Ethics in Public Life, State University of NY at Plattsburgh
  125. Curry Malott, Associate Professor, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  126. Gerardo Mancilla, Ph.D., Director of Education Administration and Leadership, School of Education Faculty, Edgewood College
  127. Roxana Marachi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, San Jose State University
  128. Fernando Marhuenda, PhD, Professor in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Valencia, in Spain
  129. Tyson Marsh, Associate Professor, Seattle University
  130. Carlos Martínez-Cano, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
  131. Edwin Mayorga, Assistant Professor, Educational Studies, Swarthmore College
  132. Kate McCoy, Associate Professor of Educational Foundations, SUNY New Paltz
  133. Cynthia McDermott.EdD., Professor and Regional Director, Antioch University Los Angeles
  134. Jacqueline T. McDonnough, Ph.D., Associate Professor Science Education, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  135. Kathleen McInerney, Professor, School of Education, Saint Xavier University
  136. Deborah Meier, MacArthur fellow, NYU fellow
  137. José Alfredo Menjivar, Doctoral Student, CUNY, Graduate Center and Humanities Alliance Fellow, LaGuardia Community College
  138. Paul Chamness Miller, Professor of International Liberal Arts, Akita International University
  139. Jed Murr, Full-Time Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell
  140. Bill Muth, Associate Professor, Adult Learning and Literacy, Virginia Commonwealth University
  141. Kate Napolitan, Teaching Associate, University of Washington Seattle
  142. Jason M. Naranjo Assistant Professor, Special Education University of Washington Bothell
  143. Pedro E. Nava, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Mills College
  144. Network for Public Education
  145. Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  146. Tammy Oberg De La Garza, Associate Professor, College of Education, Roosevelt University
  147. Gilda L. Ochoa, Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, Pomona College
  148. Margo Okazawa-Rey Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
  149. Susan Opotow, PhD Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  150. Rachel Oppenheim, Director and Core Faculty, School of Education, Antioch University Seattle
  151. Joy Oslund, Coordinator of directed teaching, assistant professor, Madonna University, Livonia, MI
  152. Sandra L. Osorio, Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University
  153. Callie Palmer, WSU doctoral student/adjunct faculty at Linn Benton Community College
  154. Django Paris, associate professor, department of teacher education, Michigan State University
  155. Hillary Parkhouse, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  156. Leigh Patel, Associate Professor, Boston College.
  157. Summer Pennell, Assistant Professor of English Education, Truman State University
  158. Patricia Perez, Professor, California State University Fullerton
  159. Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor. College of Ed. Michigan State University
  160. Bree Picower Associate Professor Montclair State University
  161. Farima Pour-Khorshid, Teacher Educator, University of San Francisco and PhD Candidate at University of California, Santa Cruz
  162. Shameka Powell, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, Department of Education, Tufts University
  163. Rebecca M Price, Associate Professor, UW Bothell
  164. Sarah A. Robert, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo (SUNY)
  165. Mitchell Robinson, Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education, Michigan State University
  166. Rosalie M. Romano, Associate Professor Emerita, Western Washington University
  167. Ricardo D. Rosa, PhD., Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies,, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
  168. Wayne Ross, Professor, University of British Columbia
  169. Dennis L. Rudnick, Associate Director of Multicultural Education and Research, IUPUI
  170. Lilliana Patricia Saldaña, Associate Professor, Mexican American Studies, University of Texas San Antonio
  171. Jen Sandler, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  172. Jeff Sapp, professor of education, California State University Dominguez Hills
  173. Alexandra Schindel, Asst Professor, University at Buffalo
  174. Ann Schulte, Professor of Education, CSU Chico
  175. Simone Schweber, Goodman Professor of Education, UW-Madison
  176. Déana Scipio, Postdoctoral fellow, ERC & Chèche Konnen Center at TERC
  177. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Associate Professor, English Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
  178. Doug Selwyn, Professor of Education, State University of New York
  179. Julie Shayne, Senior Lecturer, University of Washington Bothell
  180. Sarah Shear, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, Penn State Altoona
  181. Mira Shimabukuro, Lecturer, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell
  182. Janelle Silva, Assistant Professor, School of IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  183. Carol Simmons. Retired educator, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle University Professor, Seattle Community College, Western State University, City University Professor.
  184. Dana Simone, Instructor, Foundational Studies in Education, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  185. George Sirrakos, Assistant Professor of Secondary Education, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
  186. Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, California State University Monterey Bay
  187. Timothy D. Slekar, Dean, College of Education, Edgewood College, Madison, WI
  188. Beth Sondel, Assistant Professor, Department of Instruction and Learning, University of Pittsburgh
  189. Debbie Sonu, Associate Professor of Education, City University of New York
  190. Mariana Souto-Manning, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Teaching, Teachers College Columbia
  191. Jeremy Stoddard, Associate Professor, College of William & Mary
  192. David Stovall, Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
  193. Rolf Straubhaar, Assistant Research Scientist, University of Georgia.
  194. Katie Strom, Assistant Prof Educational Leadership, Cal State Univ East Bay
  195. Katy Swalwell, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Iowa State University
  196. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor, Dept of African American Studies, Princeton University
  197. Monica Taylor, Associate Professor, Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University
  198. Cathryn Teasley, Assistant Professor, University of A Coruña (Spain)
  199. Adai Tefera, School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  200. Clarens La Mont Terry, Associate Professor, Occidental College
  201. Amoshaun Toft, Assistant Professor, School of IAS, University of Washington Bothell
  202. Sara Tolbert, Assistant professor, College of Education, University of Arizona
  203. Maria Torre, the City University of New York Graduate Center
  204. Diane Torres-Velasquez, Associate Professor, University of New Mexico
  205. Victoria Trinder, Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
  206. Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies in Education, OISE, University of Toronto
  207. Carrie Tzou, Associate Professor, University of Washington Bothell
  208. Angela Valenzuela, professor of Educational Administration, University of Texas at Austin
  209. Manka Varghese, Associate Professor, University of Washington College of Education
  210. Julian Vasquez-Heilig, Professor, California State University Sacramento
  211. Michael Vavrus, Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies (Education, Political Economy, History), The Evergreen State College
  212. Verónica Vélez, Assistant Professor and Director, Education and Social Justice Minor and Program, Western Washington University
  213. Maiyoua Vang, Associate Professor, College of Education, California State University, Sacramento
  214. Michael Viola, Assistant Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California
  215. Donna Vukelich Selva, Edgewood College, Madison WI
  216. Catherine C. Wadbrook, MA, Med, Assistant Professor, Department of English and Journalism, Austin Community College
  217. Mimi Wallace, Assistant Professor, Secondary Education, McNeese State University
  218. Camille Walsh, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington Bothell
  219. Lois Weiner, Professor, Director, Urban Education and Teacher Unionism Policy Project New Jersey City University
  220. Melissa Weiner, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of the Holy Cross
  221. Michael Wickert, Professor of English an Education, Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA
  222. Gabe Winer, English/ESOL Department Co-chairBerkeley City College
  223. Min Yu, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University
  224. Ken Zeichner Boeing Professor of Teacher Education, University of Washington Seattle
  225. Shelley Zion, Professor, Urban Education, Rowan University

 

#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool FAQ: Answering why hundreds of Seattle educators are wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school

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#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool press conference.  Teachers pictured (from left to right) Rogelio Rigor, Donte Felder, Sarah Arvey, and Jesse Hagopian. (Photo by Benice Buhain)

On October 19th, 2016 hundreds of Seattle teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, nurses, instructional assistants, librarians, and other educators will be wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to school in an unprecedented action, “Black Lives Matter At School.”  Already, some 2,000 shirts have been ordered and many of these educators will also be teaching lessons that day about institutional racism.  Educators at Washington Middle School and other educators from the Social Equality Educators have compiled this list of answers to frequently asked questions about this unprecedented action.

 

October 19th—#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool FAQ

Q: How did the October 19th Black Lives Matter At School event get organized?

A: In mid-September, two Seattle elementary schools decided to have African-American men from their communities welcome students to school with greetings and high-fives. Teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts. One school, John Muir, received a bomb threat from someone opposing the event. Although consideration was given to canceling due to safety concerns, the event was held anyway without any problems. In an act of solidarity, a few days later the Seattle Education Association (SEA) Representative Assembly passed a resolution unanimously supporting the schools and their actions, and encouraging all schools to participate in a day of solidarity on Wednesday, October 19:

Whereas the SEA promotes equity and supports anti-racist work in our schools; and,
Whereas we want to act in solidarity with our members and the community at John Muir who received threats based on their decision to wear Black Lives Matter t- shirts as part of an event with “Black Men United to Change the Narrative”; and,

Whereas the SEA and SPS promote Race and Equity teams to address institutionalized racism in our schools and offer a space for dialogue among school staff; and,

Therefore be it resolved that the SEA Representative Assembly endorse and participate in an action wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts on Wednesday, October 19,2016 with the intent of showing solidarity, promoting anti-racist practices in our schools, and creating dialogue in our schools and communities.

On October 8, the Seattle Public Schools noted the event on its website, and stated:

During our #CloseTheGaps kick-off week, Seattle Education Association is promoting October 19 as a day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of our students – specifically our students of color.

In support of this focus, members are choosing to wear Black Lives Matter t- shirts, stickers or other symbols of their commitment to students in a coordinated effort. SEA is leading this effort and working to promote transformational conversations with staff, families and students on this issue.

We invite you to join us in our commitment to eliminate opportunity gaps and accelerate learning for each and every student.

Q: Who has endorsed this Black Lives Matter At School event?

A: This event been endorsed by the Seattle Education Association, Seattle PTSA Council board, The Seattle NAACP, Diane Ravitch (former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education), Dr. Wayne Au (editor at Rethinking Schools and professor at UW Bothell) Carol Burris (Executive Director of the Network for Public Education), and a growing list of academics, organizers and activists from around the country.

Q: Why are school teachers and staff participating?

A: When people know that something is wrong, they often try to change it through social movements. Black Lives Matter is a social movement for racial justice in 21st century United States. Every individual chooses how they show their support of the movement. Some teachers want to be publicly supportive, others would rather be private.

Q: Isn’t this a political action and do political actions belong at school? blmshirt_1-jpg

A: This is a consciousness-raising event. School is part of society, students and staff are part of society, and so what is happening within our society deserves and demands our attention. This is a “teachable moment” for the Seattle Public School community.

Q: How will this event help promote racial equity at our school?

A: Racial equity will never be a reality unless people are willing to talk about it. This event provides an opportunity for conversations that can help our school move toward racial justice.

Q: How can I show my support?

A: Students and families are welcome to participate at school on racial equity activities in these ways:

1) Wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt or sticker on Oct. 19th. Contact your school to find out what is happening there on the 19th.

2) Parents and educators, here is list of age appropriate resources you can use to teach about racial justice: http://socialequalityeducators.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/TeachingRacialJustice.pdf

3) Attend the Black Lives Matter At School rally/forum/show organized by Social Equality Educators on the evening of Oct. 19 at Washington Hall at 6:00 p.m.to 8:00 p.m.

Q: Why call attention to Black Lives when all lives matter and when there are other groups treated unjustly in our schools and country?

A: Over 50% of the Seattle Public Schools’ student population are non-white students. The call of All Lives Matter is often used to brush aside the concerns which led to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement over the last two years. In some cases, it reflects the universal consciousness and awareness that many members of the younger generations have come to embrace. However, until the lives of people of color are treated with equal value by the society, the call for all lives to matter rings hollow. By all measures, African-Americans, Native Americans and Latinos, are treated unequally by our society fifty years after the passage of major civil rights laws. This inequality can be found in incidences of police brutality and killings, imprisonment rates, repeated studies of job and housing bias, health care, and access to quality education resulting in the school to prison pipeline. Black students in the Seattle Public Schools are suspended at four times the rate of their white peers. Until we are treated equally, we must all raise our voices or be complicit in the racism.

Q: Isn’t the Black Lives Matter Movement only about police killings?

A: No. The origin of the the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” is in the killing of Trayvon Martin by a vigilante and the ensuing national protests that followed showed the potential a new social movement. Several years later, unarmed African American Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in the streets of Ferguson, MO. Then videotaped killing of Eric Garner in New York City helped ignite this movement nationally. Repeated cases preceded these, and have followed
them. Protest actions have been led by BLM activists in hundreds of U.S. cities. But this movement is not only focused on police accountability. This summer, a platform was written under the Movement for Black Lives, advocating economic justice, political empowerment, community control of policing, reparations to the Black community, and for education justice. The platform writers represented over 50 organizations. BLM activists have also joined with the thousands of Native people and their supporters in their stand for the environment at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Q: Why do some educators’ t-shirts include the symbol of a raised fist? blmshirt_2-jpg

A: The raised fist has been used by organizers to symbolize solidarity in struggles for racial justice, social justice, labor rights, and human rights for a very long time. It has been used to support such diverse struggles as organizing for workers’ rights in 18th century France, organizing for labor rights internationally in the early 20th century, organizing against fascism during the Spanish Civil War, and – most relevantly – organizing for civil rights and racial equity in the United States since the 1960s. By wearing the raised fist, Seattle educators are demonstrating their solidarity with struggles for racial equity in Seattle schools and U.S. society as a whole. We are also acknowledging the ongoing legacy of struggles led by communities of color, in particular Black Lives Matter and other movements for racial justice in the United States.

Q: What does the hashtag #sayhername mean?

A: This hashtag was called for in May 2015 to call attention to the Black women and girls who have been killed by the police. This includes the case of Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman who was arrested over a traffic stop in Texas, and died in police custody, hanging in her cell. Black women are outnumbered by white women 5:1 in the United States, yet are killed by police in nearly the same numbers. The statement challenges us to recognize the intersectional nature of oppressive systems including racism and patriarchy and to value and make visible the lives and struggles of black girls and women.

 

Teacher Uses Settlement Proceeds To Fund Activists, Organizations

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History teacher Jesse Hagopian talks about his $100,000 settlement with the City of Seattle after being pepper-sprayed by a police officer last year. Hagopian is using the proceeds from the settlement to fund youth activists and community-based organizations. Staff Photo/Chris B. Bennett.

By Chris B. Bennett
The Seattle Medium

Jesse Hagopian, a community activist and history teacher at Garfield High School, recently reached a $100,000 settlement with the City of Seattle for an incident in which he was pepper-sprayed, without provocation, by a Seattle Police officer after he gave a speech at a community rally on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2015.

At the time of the incident, Hagopian was on the phone with his mother– arranging plans for a ride to his two-year-old son’s birthday party — when Seattle police officer Sandra Delafuente assaulted him with pepper-spray.

“That day was deeply painful, and not only because of the burning in my ears, nostrils, and swollen eyes,” said Hagopian. “What hurt the most was the fear that I brought to my two sons who were deeply troubled watching me writhe in pain and pour milk on face to try to sooth the burning.”

The pepper-spray assault was caught on video and garnered millions of views online and was the subject of national and international news stories. As a result of the video, Hagopian was able to show that the incident was unwarranted.

“It is deeply disappointing that we are in this place again that we see how protestors and peaceful marchers are treated by the Seattle Police Department,” said Attorney James Bible, whose law firm represented Hogapin in his claim against the City. “I think the question that should be posed by many is what would happen if there, in fact, was no video in this particular case. We’d be stuck with nothing but the narrative of law enforcement and what we know now is that the narrative of the law enforcement rarely, if ever, matches the video that we’re able to capture and gather on occasion.”

Hagopian, to his credit, has turned the incident into an opportunity to support people who are making a difference in the Seattle area, as he is providing money from the settlement to support the work of groups and individuals to improve the plight of people of color.

At a press conference held Monday at the NAACP office, Hagopian announced the establishment of his Black Education Matters Scholarship for student activist. Hagopian presented three high school students – Marcelas Owens, Ifrah abshir and Ahlaam Ibraahim – with $1,000 to use in order to continue their work in the community.

Marcelas Owens has been on the recognized for her work both locally and nationally on healthcare and transgender issues.

Ahlaam Ibraahim hosts an annual Islamophobic event to educate people who may be afraid of Muslim people due to media bias. In addition, she also uses social media to address bad things that are happening in schools and has been instrumental in getting building improvements at some schools through her use of social media.

Ifrah Abshir helped lead the Transportation Justice Movement for Orca Cards in Seattle Public Schools. This started off as a quest to secure Orca Cards for Rainier Beach students that lived more than a mile from school and were getting to school late or missing school because they did not have the financial means to pay for bus transportation. The two-year battle culminated in the City of Seattle providing Orca Cards to low-income high school students in Seattle.

“I’m really excited to say that the real heroes in our community are the young people who are making big change and getting ready to make even bigger change,” said Hagopian. “We are going to turn all this pain into positive movement forward and into action.”

“Already you’ve transformed Seattle Schools,” he said of the recipients. “I can’t wait to see what you guys do moving forward.”

In addition, Hagopian also announced funding for the Africatown Center for Education and Innovation, and Families of Color Seattle – two community-based organizations that are also helping to make a difference in the community.

Africatown Center for Education and Innovation is an organization that has developed a concerted effort to change the trajectory of African American students by providing a culturally responsive learning community that fosters hope, resilience, and academic achievement.

Families of Color Seattle is a local organization that provides parenting support and cultural programming for families of color.

“It’s meant so much to me to see the work that you’ve done with families of color across Seattle to empower them and this is exactly the type of work that I want to continue to support in Seatttle,” said Hagopian about his donation to the organization.

Hagopian says that the awards are not one time gestures and that he plans to establish a fund so he can give out funds to deserving people each year.

“We’re going to put thousands of dollars into this fund, so people can get it,” he said.

As it relates to the pepper-spray incident, the outcome is bittersweet for both Hagopian and the NAACP.

“This is a victory in that it has received an outcome,” said Sheley Secrest, Vice President of the Seattle King County NAACP. “But this is a lesson that Seattle has already had the opportunity to learn. SPD should be ashamed because they know that they have a problem when it comes to policing these types of protests.”

“We’ve told them over and over again and the fact this it has cost them over $100,000 for their failure to learn from their mistakes is a lesson that as taxpayers we cannot afford,” Secrest concluded.

With the settlement the City of Seattle did not admit to any wrongdoing. The Office of Professional Accountability recommended that officer Delafuente be suspended for one-day without pay for her actions. However, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, reportedly, choose to give Delafuente an oral reprimand instead of suspending her.

 

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