In historic fashion, Racial Justice NOW! completed its fifth National Week of Action as members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign by participating in four events in three different states. DSC is a coalition of 125 organizations across 25 states that fight against the school to prison pipeline and school pushout. RJN!, serving as the co-chair of the national campaign for over a year, started off the week in New Orleans, LA, which served a two-fold purpose.
The Week of Action national event was accompanied by the launch of a national conversation on race, hosted by Community for Just Schools Fund. Both events culminated with the keynote lecture from award-winning rapper, producer, actor, and activist David Banner.
After spending three days in Louisiana, team RJN! flew back to Dayton, Ohio to host a panel of candidates that are running for open school board seats in Dayton Public Schools. RJN! has the unique responsibility, as an unashamedly Black organization, to ask the difficult and under-addressed questions about racial disparities in suspensions, equitable funding to all schools, and restorative justice practices. The well-attended event was facilitated by DPS graduate and active community member Fred Leon Cox.
RJN! Executive Director H.A. Jabar, set the tone in his introduction of Mr. Cox, by highlighting the organization’s social and political position of talking about what is uncomfortable but nonetheless true. Brother Jabar was unable to stay at the event but was on a flight to the third event of the week in Menlo, California at Facebook’s headquarters.
Facebook, hosted a summit on school climate and safety called Connecting Communities of Courage. As the co-chairs of the Dignity in Schools Campaign RJN! attended to represent the voices of Black parents. It is imperative that the voices of Black parents are lifted up in these types spaces because policy, research, and action are followed by the information given at these types of summits. If the input of Black parents is not heard, there will continue to be research and policies developed that will best assist the suburbs of white communities and often adversely effect Black or urban communities.
To complete the week, RJN!’s youth division, the West Dayton Youth Task Force, hosted the Gem City Classic to End the School to Prison Pipeline. The event consisted of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a rap and dance contest, and hip-hop pedagogy circles. Youth won cash prizes and had the opportunity of seeing how sports and hip-hop culture can relate to the classroom and how curriculum can fuel the school to prison pipeline.
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