On May 17th, 1954, the Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka struck down the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. This ruling made state-sanctioned segregation in schools unconstitutional. Today, despite the abolishment of laws prohibiting children of different races from learning together, in many cases student-body demographics show that schools remain wildly racially segregated indicating the need to continue to work toward full integration, despite current progress.
Last week, on the sixty-ninth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the Dudley Flood Center hosted its second Mapping the Movement for Racial Equity in Education event in Durham at which attendees were given the opportunity to network and discuss actionable steps towards combating inequities in education.
Mapping The Movement is an initiative launched by the Flood Center in 2019 to help build a visible network of organizations engaged in equity work across the state in order to highlight the efforts that are already underway, especially those that are centering and being led by communities of color, as well as connect organizations to one another across sectors, facilitate the sharing and building of resources and collective action, and elevate and support the critical work of individual organizations.
The Flood Center now takes it a step further by connecting organizations to strategize and organize around common priorities. Those priorities are:
- Funding and Implementing the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan
- Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Educator Workforce
- School Mental Health & Safety
- Eradicating Inequities
Dr. Townsend-Smith, the Senior Director of the Center said, “by focusing on these common priorities across organizations, we can work together to protect and support every student for collective impact.”
The first Mapping the Movement event was held earlier this year during Black History Month. At this initial meeting connections were made between nonprofit organizations, philanthropic organizations, educators, advocates and elected officials all working toward furthering education equity. Building upon those connections, at last week’s event attendees were able to work towards creating action items for achieving the common priorities established through Mapping the Movement.
The Flood Center will continue the Mapping the Movement initiative at Color of Education on October 7, 2023. This annual summit brings together a diverse group of individuals and organizations to discuss issues around race, education, and community centered around the need for social justice.
The keynote speaker of last week’s event was the Flood Center’s namesake Dr. Dudley Flood, who led the effort of desegregating public schools in North Carolina.
“We need a team. One person can’t do this, and one concept can’t do this,” said Dr. Flood. “We need a variety of ways of thinking about what we’re trying to get done and a variety of strategies. The broader the group, the better chance we have of coming up with something that will be workable for the whole state.”
Dr. Flood says he continues to fight for equity in schools today because he believes in the work.
“If your avocation and your vocation are the same, you don’t work. You just get up in the morning and do what you believe in,” shared Dr. Flood “I can’t stand by and watch something disintegrate, that we’ve worked so hard to try to put together. So what do we do now? Do we let it continue to go downhill, or do we try to get together with people with like interests and like capabilities, and see if we can navigate this thing in a different direction.”
Among the event’s attendees was a high school student from Orange County, Tia Hilber, who emphasized the value of student voices when looking for ways to improve the education system.
“I think that right now, there’s a lot of adults having conversations that affect kids, but I think kids should have a place in those conversations with adults to try to find solutions,” explained Hilber. “Adults are smart and experienced, but kids are smart too, and kids are being affected all the time by what happens in schools so I think it’s important to really get us involved.”
The event also included a spoken word performance by Guadalupe Luna Rojas, a junior at Cedar Ridge High School in Orange County and the 2023-24 Cedar Ridge High School Youth Poet Laureate.
“This is dedicated to Estrella and the other children at the elementary school where I volunteer who don’t always understand their worth, their capabilities, their value, and my parents who have sacrificed everything for me and my sisters for better opportunities,” shared Luna-Rojas.
Nadien entiende mis lenguas.
Lo que de verdad mente se significa
el viaje de la mejor oportunidad.
How the story itself is not quite enough
For your head to begin to grasp,
of questioning yourself
Did you make the right choice?
Going towards the complete unknown of everything foreign.
Because you don’t understand me
and I don’t understand you.
I came to learn that my food is loved here
because it tastes sooo sooo different.
I’m different because my hair is dark
my tongue is sharp and often silent,
my skin is a caramel brown,
and quite different from the beautiful fair,
because as a kid I thought it wasn’t fair
how the girls at school had beautiful golden locs,
and being in the sun in the summer going for a tan
was soooo sooo
Because they did the most to gain the golden touch,
But then why was my natural caramel brown hated so much?
Somewhere an 8 yr old girl
sits in a math classroom
confused because math is already hard enough,
much more so if it’s in a language where you don’t understand.
But she is smart and beautiful,
More than the barriers
More than the ignorant comments
And hateful names
Because little 8 year old me
With bushy eyebrows, hairy arms, crooked teeth,
Believed the hateful lies
When their ignorance shouldn’t have had any importance to me
There will always be that one kid in class that loves tacos,
But always loves to mispronounce your name too.
Because it’s not Angelina, it’s Angelyne.
Because it’s not Mary, it’s Maritza.
Because it’s not Marcus, it’s Marcos.
No te conformes con quedarte callado
Don’t settle for just staying quiet
and let everything sink in
Don’t let them silence you,
Don’t let the the things they say define you
They can’t design you
You’ll learn to embrace the other part of you
You hated so much
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