Black people have always found ways to teach, learn, and empower each other. We remain dedicated to the work of ensuring Black Lives Matter in schools and creating spaces that embody Black joy.
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Article written by M. Mbaye & R. Clayton
We got involved with the BLM at Schools Teen Council through our club director Martin Urbach. We are both a part of the club Circle Keepers where we implement restorative justice practices within our school and stand in as mediators for our school community but before we joined Circle Keepers we were in the Restorative Justice class. In that class we were also taught by Martin and he taught mainly about movements like Black Lives Matter, Abolition, and The School to Prison Pipeline. He had connections to and is a part of the BLM at School Teen Council and because of our developments over zoom in 9th grade in that class we joined. Therefore it has been 3 years that we have participated in and been a part of the BLM at Schools Teen Council.
On the day of this year's BLM at Schools Week of Action event, we arrived at Harvest Collegiate early in the morning in preparation for the big event. Twelve students and three adults scattered around the cafeteria. There were a few students stationed at a variety of tables. Some were setting up the snacks for all the attendees, others were blowing up beach balls, and then there was art making to give a welcoming experience to the atmosphere. As attendees started arriving we introduced the 13 guiding principles and our purpose for gathering at the BLM Youth council. After a short presentation on restorative justice by harvests very own circle keepers and a pizza break, attendees emerged into a surplus of different workshops and learning opportunities in 5 different rooms. There was a kids corner, vision boarding, learning about forgotten activists, watching and analyzing videos, and art making.
Throughout the event attendees were able to incorporate music, food, and fun into a learning experience. Something to be proud of at this event is that it was not only fun, but educational. Students, teachers, and staff all came together, some with limited knowledge on what RJ was and the 13 guiding principles and its 4 demands. Through this event, we were able to spread the framework of such powerful ideologies onto our peers and other methods of administration who will then bring it to their own schools in hopes of creating change.
BLM at school is all about educating, empowering and recentering yourself in the knowledge or experience of being Black. Being a part of this Teen Council we have really gotten the chance to connect with youth with similar drives and interest to activism, celebrating, and growing with one another. Every year we have brainstormed and really thought about what things we wanted to do to steer away from all of the negative aspects of the black experience that everyone is often focused on and celebrate excellence and what we see in ourselves as values that go hand in hand with what the BLM movement stands for. Every year I learn more about how people want to move forward, what they want to push for mentally, or physically in different spaces.
As well as leave with an understanding within themselves. In hopes of making it better next year, we should extend the time of the event so that there is enough room for folks to have enough time to attend different workshops. In doing this, everyone gets to experience more than one immersive activity. We wish that people knew that believing Black lives matter in schools means believing in the principle of loving engagement; specifically tied to Black women. As two high school black women write this, it’s important to recognize the importance of Black women in schools of all grades.
Everyone should work towards building an affirming space for all the young black girls who are generalized and stereotyped to behave a certain way. To create a safe space for these girls in schools, means to be willing to let go of any and all misogynistic and patriarchal practices and leave room for these women to thrive.
What's going on?
Who is Dr. Covington?
To The University of Iowa President’s Office and Administration, Division of DEI, and Graduate College:
To be radical, “It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.” - Ella Baker
We, the National Steering Committee of the Black Lives Matter at School, stand in solidarity with Dr. Lisa Covington and demand that the university rescind their decision to bar her from participating in the Spring 2023 commencement. In alignment with our ongoing collective support of all Black students, faculty, and staff, we issue this statement knowing that when part of our community is not protected, the whole Black campus community may be harmed.
Dr. Covington defended her dissertation on July 8, 2022, and was informed by her advisor that she could participate in Spring 2023 commencement ceremonies. Months later, she was then informed by the Graduate College Dean Amanda Thein that she would not be permitted to walk in the Spring graduation, even though she was not able to participate due to being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After communicating with Dean Thein, the commencement requirements were posted on the university’s website. Due to the unilateral decision-making by university administrators, Dr. Covington sought to file a grievance but was informed by Associate Provost Lois Geist that there was no process. As a result, The University of Iowa is denying the opportunity for Dr. Covington to celebrate attaining a PhD, a distinction held by only three percent of Black women faculty members!
The University of Iowa is ignoring the diverse needs of the students, in particular, the lives of Black students who have been impacted by both the health and racial pandemics. Overall, there has been a lack of communication, both to students and faculty, on the policy that restricts graduation participation eligibility. Dr. Covington was led to believe she could participate in the spring commencement. Despite this policy not being previously outlined, when she asked to appeal the decision she was not given steps nor directions, but was simply told no and admonished by Provost Geist for prioritizing her health. We find this approach to contradict University of Iowa’s attempts to correct and heal their historical systemic racist practices as outlined in their new DEI commitment.
Dr. Lisa Covington is the Director of the Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy in Iowa City. For this work, she was featured on Iowa Public Radio multiple times and received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Iowa Department of Human Rights in 2020. Serving as editor for Ms. Magazine’s Primer on Critical Race Theory is one of many examples Dr. Covington has raised the national and international profile of Iowa while she has been a student at The University of Iowa. Yet, the school hasn't supported her ongoing achievements. Her commitment to the values of educational equity have always been prominent in her teaching and scholarship. The university must take actions that align with the values stated publicly. How does refusing to allow an appeal to a blanket policy demonstrate that you “understand the emerging needs and priorities of stakeholders, or seek to “improve equitable access to educational opportunities”, or that you are “honest, fair, respectful, and ethical and are accountable for [y]our decisions and actions”? It appears as though Dr. Covington is being penalized by The University of Iowa due to her tremendous efforts in challenging state restrictions on curriculum and establishing an Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy for Black youth and actively advocating for the principles of critical race theory to be understood in Iowa and beyond.
The current actions of The University of Iowa is consistent with the historical mistreatment of Black faculty, staff, and students on campus. The university has a legacy of anti-Blackness, from racist housing practices during the 1940s to the racial discrimination lawsuit from Black student-athletes that occurred in the past weeks. In addition, the concerning number of Black administrators and faculty that have left over the last few years and over half the current faculty and staff indicating they’ve considered leaving because of the university’s culture, points to an institution with a culture that fails to support or nurture Black intellectuals. The university profits off of anti-Blackness while reducing the Black body and mind to what can benefit the university and conspires with the state in the silencing of Black education and Black students. The university leadership has a responsibility to take every chance to correct previous injustices and work towards healing this ongoing pervasive anti-Black culture. This may seem like an isolated event, but it can be seen in the racism experienced when students in the English department submitted papers with the n-word used freely despite being asked by Black faculty to not do that sparking #BlackatIowaWriters social media testimonials, Black students expressing isolation and the ongoing discrimination Black football players experience, which resulted in a lawsuit.
In light of Dr. Covington being denied any right to appeal the decision, we demand you to reconsider this injustice against Dr. Lisa Covington and allow her family and friends the opportunity to witness her remarkable achievement at the Spring 2023 commencement. We hope you take this opportunity to have an actual discussion regarding your shameful actions that are a type of retaliation against Dr. Covington for her ongoing support of Black lives in the face of the legislative attempts to ensure that Black lives in Iowa don’t matter. There is no justification for ignoring the reality of a Black woman impacted by the pandemic. The University of Iowa only has 3 percent of African American students and should be supportive of Black students going to school in a sundown state. Despite the ongoing challenges Black students, faculty and staff face at The University of Iowa–as documented on your climate survey and the frequent occurrence of folks leaving the institution–you have the opportunity to support a talented recent alumna while stand up for what is right and pivot from historical wrongs by making a commitment to do better and reaffirm your promise to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
"What we do is more important than what we say, or what we say we think." - bell hooks
-The National Black Lives Matter at School Steering Committee
Graphic Description: Screenshots of Lorde’s Questionnaire to Oneself and YouTube video frame of Morrison speaking on the Importance of Writing in the Face of Hate to look like open Internet windows. Unapologetically Black Year of Purpose Logo in the top right and below, a description on how to access resources on the curriculum guide: “Access prompts on our are.an page - bit.ly/UBPresources”
To celebrate the birthdays of Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison, and to live in their embodiment of their unforgiving and unapologetic commitment to be their whole selves, we invite folks to complete Lorde’s Questionnaire to Oneself and watch Morrison speak about what it means to continue writing in the face of hate.
To return to this work day in and out, is an ongoing practice. It reaches far beyond a week of action and asks us to remain committed to hope and transformation. Let us too, live in the essence of Lorde and Morrison, to continue our commitment to teaching truthful histories and amassing the powerful practices, creative tools, and key strategies by which past, present, and future generations can advance the struggle of Black liberation.
Student Creative Challenge
To continue our celebration of Unapologetically Black Day on February 18th, we are sharing a video showcase of all the entries to the 2023 Student Creative Challenge. Students were thoughtful, intentional, and very clear in how schools can SUPPORT them in being unapologetically Black. From displaying flags and images of Black people to understanding hair as a prized possession, school communities can easily make commitments to honor and celebrate Black students, families, educators, and community leaders while providing access to space and resources to un-learn and re-learn.
Thank you to all students who submitted their drawings, paintings, poetry, stories, photography, and more! And to to their teachers and school leaders for encouraging them. The movement keeps on keepin’ on because of you all…onward!!
Keenan Anderson's life was taken by the LAPD. We, along with his family, community, and students, are heartbroken.
At BLM@School, our dedication to Black teachers is both in and outside of the classroom. We have consistently upheld that all students deserve Black teachers. Further, we know intimately that Black men, women, and nonbinary folks have gifts, skills, and experiences that seed flowers into the creation of a more just world.
Amongst our community, we recognize the intention to take time to feel, mourn, sit in solitude, and honor what needs to be done is different for each of us. We demand that school-based practices and overarching labor policy must respect the grieving space for Black students and educators at this time, integrated within a much more expansive call for community-wide traditions that make available a healing-centered education to everyone.
We remain committed to working for racial justice in education as a critical step in achieving our full liberation, and explicitly restate our solidarity with youth organizers nationwide that champion the urgent call for #PoliceFreeSchools. We long for liberation in our lifetime, where our Blackness is respected by all institutions that mediate our precious lives.
We’ll continue to uplift Keenan Anderson, echo the 5 demands led by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, and inspire ALL educators nationwide to recognize they have a duty to join in the struggle. 2023 Week of Action is upcoming February 6-10. We expect to embrace you within the worthy work.
What we want is not progress, we want complete freedom.
-Kelly Miller Smith
Link to BLM Los Angeles Instagram
Link to BLM Grassroots Instagram
Link to Petition With BLM Los Angeles and Color of Change.
Click HERE for more information including event descriptions and registration links.
We lead with the heart and courageously work to address racial injustice in education, embodying Black joy, confronting anti-Blackness, and building authentic partnerships with all who support creating equitable school communities across the nation. We are here to encourage individuals if they choose to operate within the school systems and those who have chosen to educate elsewhere. We have been dedicated to collective impact working beside national organizations who demand more from our education systems.
We’ve been an all-volunteer group for nearly five years, spanning eight regions and ten states. Last year our steering committee members took part in almost a hundred actions to advance Black lives at schools. This included writing book chapters, speaking out in articles, calling people in on panels, and so much more. Late this year, thanks to a generous grant, we hired two staff. An additional grant, honorariums, and our members supported our work. In 2022, over ninety people helped fund the National work. We can get to 100 supporters by the end of the year with one-time and monthly donations. We continue our focus on youth, collaboration, and building a National network which is evident in where our money goes.
We stay dedicated to a Week of Action, our Year of Purpose, and acknowledging a lifetime of practice. In the first week of February each year, educators, organizers, and activists raise awareness of the national demands and thirteen principles. To keep the local work grounded and strong, we promote resource sharing while showcasing the overlap of the work as it supports one purpose. We are here to share ideas and best practices while building connections across the country. You have utilized lessons, planned events, and continued the movement. To kick off the Year of Purpose, we held our first ticketed event Renewing the Radical Project of Black Education. Let us continue to grow and build personal practices inside and outside classrooms. We will be mapping our network to better support local activists. Tell us more about you, the local priorities, and what you need.
Planning for our week of action in 2023 has already begun. We have an event each day connected to our principles, Black joy, and building community. On January 16th, MLK Day, our 2023 T-Shirt design and new curriculum resource guide will go live. We are using a new platform, Are.na, which allows us to work collaboratively and is more secure. We no longer have what we curated over the last four years. If you previously downloaded some of our materials or came across a great resource related to one of the thirteen principles, please share it on our open Are.na page.
People support the work by giving their time, talents, and resources. We have established five committees that will allow us to more effectively build Black-centered, decolonial, and liberatory curricula resources that span K-12th grade and include multiple subject areas, disseminate tools for policy changes that lift up our four demands, offer practical support for personal development, and educate the broader community. We plan to compensate our co-leads, honoring our belief in ongoing accessibility and paying people for their time and labor. If you want to get more involved as an ambassador, you can join a committee.
Thank you for being bold advocates! We look forward to expanding our impact, bringing new folks in, and forming new coalitions. We appreciate opportunities to collaborate nationally, participate in regional events, and work locally to ensure Black lives matter at school.
Saturday, January 21
11:30am - 2:30pm ET
8:30am - 11:30am PT
Annual fair designed to uplift the 13 Guiding Principles and national demands of Black Lives Matter at School. Online.
Hosted By - D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice
Register - Mobile eTicket
Register today for the annual D.C. Area Black Lives Matter at School Curriculum Fair, hosted by Teaching for Change's D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice (DCAESJ). This online event is open to all educators, not just those in the D.C. area, with the purpose to prepare educators for the National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and Year of Purpose. Learn from and collaborate with educators in workshops designed to uplift the 13 Guiding Principles and national demands of Black Lives Matter at School. Additional information to be announced. Read about the 2022 fair here!
Curriculum Workshop Proposals
DCAESJ is seeking workshop proposals for the curriculum fair that speak to the National Black Lives Matter at School Year of Purpose, centering the 13 Guiding Principles and national demands in the classroom. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Tuesday, January 3. More Info
SUBMIT YOUR WORKSHOP PROPOSAL
To fight against societal ableism, we must celebrate our differences and understand how the lessons from Black disabled organizers teach us how to build inclusive, accessible movements. Uplift the principles of globalism and collective value by incorporating the following resources into education spaces and personal practices.
Art by cozcon | Instagram @cozcon @fwdtogether
"With this Trans Day of Resilience artwork, I want all trans youth to know: you're the answer." - Artist cozcon
Members of the National Black Lives Matter at School steering committee remind educators and those fighting for education justice to uplift the principle of Transgender Affirming to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. From its inception, BLM and BLM at School have been committed to centering Black Trans folx in our quest for liberation in society and schools across the globe. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor the memories of our Black trans family who have lost their lives for daring to exist in this world. Today and every day, we thank them for their ever expansive existence that has gifted us priceless truths and healing abundance.
This year in 2022, over 140 anti-trans bills have been introduced directly attacking children and educators in schools, and simultaneously, the introduction of over 190 anti-CRT bills since 2021. This is the direct result of our collective resistance. The reaction of youth-led protest, of teaching the truth, and of educators demanding their autonomy. We recognize the on-going and growing need for more affirming curriculum and more queer and trans educators. So let us continue to struggle alongside each other and on this Day of Resilience, transmute the energy of those we have lost. Let us grieve and honor their lives so that we can transform our anger and rage into clarity and action, so that all Black lives know they matter in schools and beyond.
As we continue to work for a world where all Black lives are shown they matter in schools is the norm, we remain dedicated to the principle Collective Value. We envision a future where trans people thrive as their full selves, lead their communities, and are free to love themselves and be loved.
We are committed to helping build a world in which we live in authentic and conscious relationship with ourselves, each other, and the lands we occupy with the least amount of harm and violence. We lead with the heart in creating systems and networks of care to make the domination, erasure, and dehumanization of any being impossible.
-National Black Lives Matter At School Steering Committee
All artwork from cozcon and Forward Together - Download here.
Image Description: The back and front of a light gray T-shirt. Back of T-shirt has text of BLMAS four demands. Front has text and 2022 BLMAS logo. Below, a laptop with the same logo on its screen. In the upper right corner, white text on black background that announces design contest. Below, a white box with black text about contest details.
Call for logo designs!
National Black Lives Matter at School is seeking youth-led logo designs for the 2023 year. The logo will be used around the country to support national organizing around our four core demands. Submit your design by Sunday, December 4.
During the school year, BLM at School has an annual Week of Action in different cities. Thousands of educators around the country wear their Black Lives Matter shirts to school and teach lessons on the guiding principles, structural racism, intersectionality, Black history, and anti-racist movements.
The National Black Lives Matter at School Steering Committee will select three designs to go up for public vote in December. The winner will be announced in mid December when we launch a sale of T-shirts with the logo for our 2023 February Week of Action. Includes Cash Prize.
Continue with this form to submit your design - bit.ly/2023BLMASdesigncontest
PRESS RELEASE: National Black Lives Matter At School receives Initial $100K Support to Expand Community Collective Power in Public Education for Thriving Black Futures
Thursday, October 27, 2022 // FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
These funds will be dedicated to upgrading our national-level coordination and outreach across our coalition, while we invite continued grassroots support to strengthen local BLM@School organizing nationwide! Help us meet our goal of $25,000 for the 2023 BLM@School Activity Support Fund to grow joyful, radical Black education organizing!
Mark these dates in your calendar as we prepare for the our annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.
At the November meeting, we will be discussing how to plan a curriculum party, fair, or gathering. We also want to hear from you all about the plans and ideas you have in mind for your local Week of Actions. The December meeting topics will be determined from the needs of folks at our Nov. meeting.
Please Note: There are two different registration links for the November and December meetings.
Looking forward to getting together!! Please get in touch with us if you want to connect: email@example.com
Join this fall for the second virtual public training series for students, educators, and parents who want strong, equitable public schools. Series sessions will be led by H.E.A.L. Together team members, their partners, and subject matter experts.
Upcoming Training Dates
6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT
REGISTER & LEARN MORE HERE: healtogether.org/training
We are rooted in our communities as students of the people.
“Those Closest to the Pain, Must be Closest to the Power.”
Join us for the first annual QUALITY OF LIFE FESTIVAL! Journey for Justice Alliance in partnership with Grass Roots Organizations from all over the united States is proud to present this event! For far too long underserved communities have had to fight for equity in the most common areas of experiencing a good "Quality Of Life". Organizers fight for food, jobs, health care , safety, education, etc... This festival brings together all of the different organizations to not only celebrate there victories but to empower them for more! QOL Festival will be Historical! Join us on the right side of history!
To attend the festival and concert at no cost, please register with National BLMAS before Friday, September 9.
REGISTER AND LEARN MORE HERE: bit.ly/blmas_eoe22