RJN! staff has been sharing knowledge and organizing with Howard County, MD parents, youth, and community members in support of the Black Lives Matters at School annual event. In preparation for the week, community members decided that they wanted to support the event by getting the county school board to pass a resolution in support of the week. The school board’s support allows teachers to teach social justice curriculum and not be reprimanded for not teaching the “standard curriculum”. The resolution passed, and Team RJN! at the DMV Chapter can say that they helped to secure it’s first win in the state of Maryland.
“Every win small or large is a boost. We should celebrate like we won the super bowl with all that we have been through, because it gives us a little more energy to continue the fight.”
H.A. Jabar/ Racial Justice NOW! Director
Thank you to all those who were a part of the#blackout ! Our collective voices moved the Howard County, MD School Board to adopt the Resolution endorsing Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action. Special shot out to Board Members Sabina Taj, Mavis Ellis, Chao Wu, Kirsten Coombs, & the Student Board member for taking a stand for black students, educators, and families and a stand against systemic racism in our schools.#blacklivesmatteratschool #JusticeOverProcess
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HOWARD COUNTY
BLACK LIVES MATTER AT SCHOOL WEEK OF ACTION
WHEREAS, a national movement of teachers, parents, administrators, and scholars have come together to proclaim an annual week of action, affirmation, and solidarity, to be called “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action;” and
WHEREAS, the annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action will take place during the month of February to coincide with, and augment, Black History Month; the 2019 week of action is February 4–8; and
WHEREAS, schools should be places for the practice of equity, for the building of understanding, and for the active engagement of all in creating pathways to freedom and justice for all people; and
WHEREAS, the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is intended to highlight, uplift and affirm the rich history and contributions of the Black community and to cultivate in Black students a sense of pride, self-worth, and self-love; and
WHEREAS, Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is further intended to encourage ongoing critical reflection and courageous conversations concerning systemic racism, social injustice, racial and ethnic bias; and to affirm the right of Black students to be treated with respect and dignity within schools and communities; and
WHEREAS, the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action may offer a variety of educational opportunities, such as workshops, panel discussions, cultural events, instructional activities, and expressions of unity; and
WHEREAS, the National Education Association endorsed the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action at the 2018 Representative Assembly; and
WHEREAS, the Maryland State Educators Association (MSEA) endorsed the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action at the 2018 Representative Assembly.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Howard County Board of Education welcomes the participation of educators, staff, and students in community-based activities and events related to the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Howard County Board of Education invites educators across grade levels and content areas to use resources that are inclusive of all of our diverse learners to enrich instruction throughout the whole year, not just one week or one month.
Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition of educators organizing for racial justice in education. We encourage all educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations to join our annual week of action during the first week of February each year.
Please see our slide presentation on BLM at School that accompanied our national webinar.
During the 2017-2018 school year, from February 5 to 9, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist movements for a nationally organized week of action: Black Lives Matter at School. Educators in over 20 cities participated in this national uprising to affirm the lives of Black students, teachers, and families including, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and beyond.
In this era of mass incarceration, there is a school-to-prison-pipeline system that is more invested in locking up youth than unlocking their minds. That system uses harsh discipline policies that push Black students out of schools at disproportionate rates; denies students the right to learn about their own cultures and whitewashes the curriculum to exclude many of the struggles and contributions of Black people and other people of color; and is pushing out Black teachers from the schools in cities around the country. With this analysis educators in the BLM at School movement developed these demands for the movement:
1) End “zero tolerance” discipline, and implement restorative justice
2) Hire more black teachers
3) Mandate black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum
4) Fund counselors not cops
The lessons that educators taught during that week of action corresponded to the thirteen guiding principles of Black Lives Matter:
Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy and Loving Engagement
Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value
Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages
Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
The Black Lives Matter at School movement first started in Seattle during the fall of 2016, when thousands of educators in Seattle came to school on October 19th wearing shirts that said, “Black Lives Matter: We Stand Together.” Hundreds of families and students did too. Many of the shirts also included the message “#SayHerName,” a campaign to raise awareness about the often unrecognized state violence and assault of women in our country.
This action attracted national news, helping it spread to Philadelphia. That city’s Caucus of Working Educators’ Racial Justice Committee expanded the action to last an entire week that year with teaching points around the principles of Black Lives Matter. Educators in Rochester, New York also held a Black Lives Matter at School day in 2017.