#MyBlackHistory Is a Shoutout to the Grandparents That Help Raise and Advocate for Kids

Feb 27, 2017 12:00:00 AM


To commemorate Black History Month, Education Post is featuring stories from parents, students and educators that connect past to present in the continued fight for better schools for Black communities using #MyBlackHistory.
  Both my maternal and paternal great grandmothers ironically have the same first names, Lillie: Lillie G. Hurst and Lillie Young. During my years as a public school teacher, every Black History Month I would call my great grandmothers and allow them to tell stories from whence we came. My great grandmother, Lillie Young, would recall her parents who were children of slaves that lived through the post-slavery era, and the story of her father opening one of the first Black owned barbershops. Both my great grandmothers served as caretakers of their families and community. They both finished school at third grade to help take care of their family before getting married and starting their own. I watched these women take care of families and keep communities together. Despite having a third-grade education, they made sure reading was fundamental for not only their children but every child they came in contact with. To me, [pullquote position="right"]they are pillars of family and community engagement[/pullquote]: helping to ensure the success of every child not just their own. They didn't just do the work of family and community engagement, they instilled that tradition in others, too. In my work with family engagement in Atlanta Public Schools, I helped create “Grandparents Initiatives” to ensure that grandparents, who are raising their grandchildren, are supported in navigating the school system. After the recent passing of my great grandmothers, in 2011 and 2014, my father had a vision to begin the Lillie's Foundation for Change. The foundation's mission is to help grandparents raising school-aged children find success. Their stories of love, support and engagement helped inspire my parents who then empowered me to advocate for children, families and communities. In order for us to know our own strength, we have to remember the strength of those from whence we came.
Photo of Lillie Young (left) and Lillie Hurst (right).

Jason B. Allen

Jason B. Allen is the Neighborhood Planning Unit K Chair, which works to build economic and community development in the city of Atlanta. He has worked in education servicing our students, families and communities in various positions in education and human development over the last 10 years. A major goal of his is to ensure that all youth have positive role models to emulate. Throughout his academic career, he has mentored many young, African-American males through his national mentoring program, BMWI (Black Men with Initiative), serving as the third national president. He has also volunteered with several community organizations including the Darnell Senior Center of Fulton County, PAL (Police Athletic League), PTSA, Lillie’s Foundation, JoJo Martin Renal Disease Foundation and a longtime advocate with Dignity in Schools and other National Organizations for Educational Advancement. He has served on Georgia's PTA District 10 Male Involvement Committee and GaDOE Region 5 as parent coordinator. He has completed board certification through the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and holds a certification from the Georgia Leadership Academy Economic & Leadership Development. Embedding the spirit of service, Jason’s main goal is to simply help others along his life’s journey. He’s dedicated to servicing those in need, determined to do the right thing for the right reasons and dependable; living by his word being his bond. Jason blogs at EdLANTA and was a 2017 YouCAN Advocate, supporting his effort to build a family and community advocacy training program.

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