Here’s the scene. There’s a movement of Black education advocates afoot. It’s built on the shoulders of the Black-led movements that preceded it, and it’s guided by the wisdom of education reform legends. But this movement is also being led by a younger generation of parents, educators and community members. This wave of leaders is relentless in their pursuit of educational justice, and they are fueled by a profound belief that their activism will lead to real change in our communities. They are driven by hope. Their work and commitment is what gets me up in the morning. They are the educators who believe our kids can succeed despite their income level or skin color. They are the parents and community members who show up at every school board meeting because they simply will not accept the pathetic school options they’ve been given. They’re why I write and tweet and speak and show up for this issue every day. They’re why you’re reading this right now. Hope gives us a clear vision of justice and equity through the work of others that inspires us to keep going. Just look at the work being done. Parent advocates are making their voices heard in Oakland, Memphis, Seattle, St. Louis, Indy and D.C. Black male educators are pushing for more diversity and representation in Philly, New Orleans and Detroit. There are education warriors in places I didn’t even know Black people lived, like Providence, Hartford and Wilmington. Educators pushing the bar in Milwaukee, Tulsa, Houston and Atlanta. Even people in the most racist Southern states that have been at the bottom of educational achievement— Mississippi and the Carolinas—are taking a stand. Seems like every day I discover new advocates leading the fight against these injustices. But there’s a reason I call this blog “Hope and Outrage.” Because if we’re being real, their outrage is a big piece of what moves us all to do this work. That outrage is born out of the audacity to give kids a shitty education just because they’re Black. Black kids being failed by education is nothing new. In fact, it’s so damn common that many have referred to it as the civil rights issue of our time. Out of the 8 million Black students in public schools across the country, only 18 percent of our eighth graders are proficient in reading, 45 percent of them attend high-poverty schools, 40 percent of the 48,000 youth incarcerated nationwide are Black and only 41 percent of Black kids who attend college are actually graduating.
But, I think there’s a crucial piece missing. And that’s the collaboration that solidifies our seat at the table. Here’s the future. A few months ago, Chris Stewart—a dynamic leader and mentor in education reform—announced a meeting where over 150 Black education advocates and leaders around the country would be discussing an agenda supporting better education for Black kids. Here’s the thing, though—this meeting was just a figment of Chris’ imagination. But it shouldn’t be. [pullquote position="left"]We may have different causes and passions but we all have the same goals. And those goals are being stifled by the boot that rests on the neck of educational justice and quality. Collectively, we can lift that boot. Ask yourself right now, are we doing enough? Are we disrupting the status quo to the full extent of our abilities? Are we ready to have that meeting—to answer Chris’ call to action? Because it’s time. Time for a revolution and time for our kids to get their fair shake—by any means necessary. It’s time to put our boots on the ground and march forward, together. And time’s up for these administrators who refuse to invest in our kids. I’m echoing Chris’ words and answering my mentor, Dr. Howard Fuller’s, call for the new generation to take the reigns. It’s not only time for all of us to come together. It’s been time.
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...