Just a few of the educators who participated in last year's BLM week -- here at Kensington CAPA High School.
“Your silence will not protect you.” - Audre Lorde
As 2018 begins, our schools continue to manifest structural inequality created by racial injustices at all levels of the education system. From the impact of zero tolerance policies that criminalize Black and Brown students and the exclusion of voices of people of color from curriculum, to the persistent loss of teachers of color from urban schools, the movement for Black Lives has never mattered more in the fight for the schools our students deserve.
We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. - #BlackLivesMatter
The Racial Justice Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators, and organizations across Philadelphia, including UrbED, PhillyCAM, the Philadelphia Writing Project, the Philadelphia Home and School Association, Parents United for Public Education, and the Teacher Action Group - are organizing the second annual week highlighting the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement in order to organize for racial and economic justice required to shift the inequalities impacting the lives of students, families, and educators working in Philadelphia’s public schools. In 2018, the week of action is nationwide, with educators and organizations participating in schools and cities across the country.
This year, we are taking our work to the next level, making national and local demands in order to end structural racism in our school systems.
During the week and beyond, we will organize around three main local demands, which are tied to demands on a national level: ending zero tolerance policies, requiring anti-racism training for all Philadelphia educators, and hiring and retaining of teachers of color in Philadelphia’s public schools.
This past weekend, our country witnessed a white-supremacist, neo-nazi rally storm through Charlottesville VA, intimidating counter-protestors and the community at-large, beating people of color, and causing the death of three people.
Let us be clear: we should not be shocked that—in a country literally built with the blood, tears, and forced labor of a stolen people, a country that has, even after emancipation, striven in various ways to maintain the effects of slavery and centuries of racial exclusion through discriminatory institutional practices—white American terrorists work to enact their agenda upon us all. What these events should force us to do is to both reflect upon and act against the racist ideas and forces that have led us to this point.
As school workers, we have a moral obligation to confront these ideas, work with our students to navigate their lived reality, and give them the time and space in their classrooms to discuss our world.Read more
For four decades, Philadelphia’s Bread & Roses Community Fund has supported community-based groups in building movements for racial equity and economic opportunity. This support takes the form of fundraising, grantmaking, capacity building, and convening for real change—change created by people with the courage to stand up, the determination to join together, and the resources they need to create solutions for justice.
One of Bread & Roses’ major support mechanisms is the Racial & Economic Justice Fund (REJ), created to assist groups engaged in direct-action community organizing in the Philadelphia region to promote racial and economic justice at the local, state, national, or international policy levels. The Caucus of Working Educators (WE) is honored to be a 2017 REJ grantee, a distinction that will take our organizing work for systemic change in Philadelphia’s education system to the next level.
WE formed in March 2014 as a rank-and-file caucus of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers focused on racial, economic, and social justice. WE seek to support and energize our union through ever more member-driven union activity; advocating for transparency, accountability, and shared decision-making; and, strong contracts for and rights of our union members.
WE wage campaigns to hold School District leadership, PFT leadership, elected officials, and city, state, and federal administrators accountable to democratic values represented by public schools and public education. WE work to defend publicly-funded public education for all, with transformed curriculum and autonomy to teach, not test. WE work alongside the students, families, and neighborhoods of Philadelphia. WE seek a broad membership base of educators, parents, community partners, and other allies, and develop the leadership ability of those members.
This REJ grant from Bread & Roses will enable us to deepen our work of intensive in-person outreach and leadership development on the ground, creating spaces for capacity building and campaign organizing, and connecting with racial, immigrant, and economic justice movements in Philadelphia. Bread & Roses will officially recognize and celebrate the Caucus and all of the 2017 Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantees (among them the 215 People's Alliance, Asian Americans United, New Sanctuary Movement, the Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project, and Youth United for Change) at the “On the Rise for Real Change” event on Wednesday, June 28, from 6:00 to 7:30 P.M. at Cultureworks Greater Philadelphia, 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320. Pre-registration is required!
We are thrilled to announce that on Saturday, January 28th, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins will take part in the closing panel discussion entitled "Next Steps: How does the work continue beyond Black Lives Matter week?"
The event is from 4:00-5:30pm at Temple University's Tuttleman Learning Center (1809 North 13th Street).
According to Jenkins: "If you ever want to change your environment or a system, you first have to be educated on how that system works. That’s why I am on the journey that I am now learning the inner workings of systems that have been set up to disadvantage minorities, especially black people. That’s why I am vigilant in my efforts to support and empower people of color."
Over 100 schools throughout the Philadelphia region have so far participated in Black Lives Matter week of action so far - and momentum behind the campaign is still growing. The week of action has been covered by dozens of media outlets across the country and received endorsements by over a hundred organizations and academics, including Councilwoman Helen Gym and Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania.
Join us on Saturday!
As the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action (#BLMPhlEd) kicks off tomorrow, community organizations from across the city have signed on to participate in and support events throughout the week. Please check them out to see more about the inspiring grassroots organizing that these organizations do every day.
Are you part of an organization that would like to sign on as an endorser? Click here to add your organization to the list, or email us at BLMPHLed@gmail.com with any questions.
Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee
Teacher Action Group
Asian Americans United
Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania
Badass Teachers Association
Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE)
TheFellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice
If Not Now- Philadelphia
The Mazzoni Center
Media Mobilizing Project
The New Teacher Roundtable (New Orleans)
Organize 2020 (North Carolina)
Parents United for Public Education
Philadelphia Black History Collaborative
Philadelphia Children’s March
The Philadelphia Writing Project
Philly Student Union
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Teachers Lead Philly
United Caucuses of Rank and File Educators (UCORE)
University Community Collaborative
Youth United for Change
The Attic Youth Center
National LGBTQ Task Force
Office of Councilwoman Helen Gym
Academics in the Philadelphia area, across Pennsylvania, and beyond are circulating a letter of support for the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action starting on Monday, 1/23.
As they state in their letter, these higher-education educators support the BLM Week of Action because "these goals are vital for educators, parents, students, and all communities in order to...
create a space for introspection and dialogue around the 13 guiding principles;
build deeper connections between educators, parents, students, and community organizations;
stand in support of national organizing supporting Black Lives Matter;
empower students and student groups to play a leading role in this week and moving forward.
The letter closes by reflecting on the role of all educators in building more a just world in our classrooms: "We are committed to teaching, learning, and culture in our classrooms that reflect these missions and goals, and to our role in building the leadership of our students to live by them. The survival and empowerment of all communities demands this."
Over 100 academics have signed on so far! Click here to add your name.
See below for the full Statement of Support:Read more
Click here to download a PDF version with functioning links. See you at one of these important events next week- and don't forget to take a photo wearing your shirts & pins on Monday!
Want to add an event or get a shirt? Email us at BLMPHLed@gmail.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE! Help spread the word and build power by RSVPing and sharing the below events:
- Tues, 1/24- Education Town Hall: Supporting Immigrant Students (Hosted by the Office of Councilwoman Helen Gym). RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1829064400639653/.
- Weds, 1/25- Bridging the Gap Between Families and Schools: Community Discussion. RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/234366720350489/.
- Thurs, 1/26- The Effects of Mass Incarceration on Black and Brown Communities: "13th" Screening and Talkback. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1514679371892834/.
- Fri, 1/27- "Demystifying Black Women and Black Girls: Misogyny, Stigma, and Power" Panel Discussion. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1923613137872852/.
- Sat, 1/28- LGBTQ Youth of Color Discuss "Moonlight and "Pariah". RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1237913592969870/.
- Sat, 1/28- Next Steps: How does the work continue beyond BLM Week? Closing Panel. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1895346544018604/.
Educators plan week of action, offer lesson resources
The Caucus of Working Educator’s Racial Justice Committee is planning a Black Lives Matter week for Philadelphia schools beginning January 23rd. The purpose of the week is girded in the 13 guiding principles that extend Black Lives Matter into a movement. Each protest must transform action into change. We are living in a pivotal time. A time when the United States has turned a mirror upon itself to reveal her true nature. This nature has reaped increased mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, constant homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare. All of these injustices exist in the intersection of race, class and gender.
As teachers, we are preparing our students to make decisions in a world that continues to spin with the aforementioned knitting together the tapestry in which we all must exist. This is why our Black Lives Matter week is a vital action. It is one that will empower each of us and our students to know that it is possible to eradicate these ills by actively engaging in the truth and never being afraid to share it, even when it is unpopular. If society continues to marginalize, murder, and devalue Black and Brown lives, then there is little hope for America to ever reach her fullest potential.
Our week of action is grounded in the 13 Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter.
Restorative Justice is the commitment to build a beloved and loving community that is sustainable and growing. Empathy is one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. Loving Engagement is the commitment to practice justice, liberation and peace. Diversity is the celebration and acknowledgment of differences and commonalities across cultures. Globalism is our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family that exists across the world in different regions. Transgender Affirming is the commitment to continue to make space for our trans brothers and sisters by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence. Queer Affirming is working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists. Collective Value means that all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location matter. Intergenerational is a space free from ageism where we can learn from each other. Black Families creates a space that is family friendly and free from patriarchal practices. Black Villages is the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other. Black Women is the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness. Unapologetically Black is the affirmation that Black Lives Matter and that our love, and desire for justice and freedom are prerequisites for wanting that for others. These principles are the blueprint for healing and do not include nor do they support ignoring or sanitizing the ugliness and discomfort that comes with dealing with race and anti-race issues.
The constant rhetoric that believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not support the Black Lives Matter movement if he were alive today is very unaware of his teachings and writings. He wrote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,” along with, “All men are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality.” In other words none of us are free if one of us is not. No law is just when it unjustly punishes some and spares others. No movement can move without individuals making tracks in the trenches until the blemishes are pushed into the light.
This week is about all of these things. It is an opportunity for us to infuse fresh understanding and critical intellect into everything we touch. In closing, I will evoke the wisdom of bell hooks, “When we only name the problem, when we state complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture.” This is the week that we name it, and this is our opportunity to build real sustainable solutions that can stretch across today and tomorrow.
For more information on the campaign view the Week of Action calendar of events, lesson resources, and FAQs page. If you are interested in organizing around the campaign at your school or with your community organization, please complete this form. To pick up t-shirts, buttons, and stickers for your school and communities, come to the kick-off Happy Hour on Wednesday, Jan.18 (4:30-6:30) at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor (600 N. Broad St. 19130). Email BLMPHLed@gmail.com for more information
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” - James Baldwin
After a very tumultuous election, it is time to remind ourselves that our classrooms should be incubators for critical observation and conversation in order to create a space for change. Change is never easy and the state of flux that it embodies is often difficult and met with fear. But, change is necessary when a large portion of our American society are constantly marginalized and persecuted. In 2012, Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman and the victim was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Zimmerman was acquitted.
“The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.” - #BlackLivesMatter web page
Philadelphia continues to be a city plagued by some of the highest levels of poverty, unemployment, and violence. The Racial Justice Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators is organizing a week highlighting the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement in order to continue purposeful action against the adverse outcomes derived from perpetual structural racism evident in public education and our society as a whole.
The week will begin on January 23rd, a day that we are asking that educators across the city join us in wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts and buttons. There will be events throughout the week, as well as curriculum resources for daily lesson plans and activities based upon the 13 Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter. As we get closer to the week, resources and the calendar of events will be posted at workingeducators.org/racial-justice.
If you are interested in learning more or organizing around the campaign at your school or with your community organization, please complete the form, and join us at our Monthly Organizing Meeting on January 10th from 4:30 to 6:30. The meeting will be held at KCAPA (1901 N. Front St.). We welcome events from teachers, community organizations, and parents.
Also, please join the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative on January 20th for a fundraiser for their upcoming conference. More information on the event can be found on event page.
We hope that you will join us as we collectively assert the value of Black lives in our schools and communities.
What is the legacy of our city? As the cradle of liberty, the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia has a tradition of facing injustice with protest, dissent, and community.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last year, the Caucus of Working Educators wrote a Racial Justice Statement in response to the stark inequalities that still exist within our local and greater community that resulted in the murders of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police officers, unchecked mass incarceration, and the ongoing shuttering and defunding of public schools in Black and Brown neighborhoods. As unionized educators, we have a moral obligation to affirm that Black lives matter.
With this in mind, the Caucus of Working Educators is planning a week of activities and teaching informed by the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement.Read more