Teachers of Color Summit Fires Up Attendees
February 27, 2023
February 27, 2023
It got hot up in there at that conference center in Norfolk. Dr. Bettina L. Love, the William F. Russell Professor at Teachers College of Columbia University, and the bestselling author of We Want to Do More Than Survive, brought the heat in a stirring keynote address that was both a call for justice and a call for action.
“We’ve been fighting for 70 years, since the Brown decision, to tell this country that our babies are worth it,” she said. “If we don’t educate our Black students about who they are, they won’t know!”
She decried the burdens placed on Black children in our schools. “Think of what our children must sacrifice when the curriculum and the teachers don’t look like them,” she said. “They’re sacrificing themselves! And it’s not just our loss—it’s your loss and it’s democracy’s loss.”
Dr. Love went on to give some marching orders. When dealing with issues such as racism and injustice, she said, “We must make our approach with love,” adding that Black educators must push for more than being included: “We must become integral,” she said, “and show them that they can’t run this ship without us!”
Conference organizers made sure that student voices were also part of the program, and high school senior Rodney Pierson, who noted that he’s only had four Black teachers in his 13 years of schooling, told attendees, “A lack of Black teachers can…put Black youth in a rough situation by limiting positive role models, limiting career insight, and discouraging Black youth from truly learning about their history and experiences. We need more Black teachers to plant the seed of success so the youth can follow and grow up to be successful and proud Black men and women.”
In addition to Dr. Love and Pierson, conference attendees also heard presentations from Peggy Brookins, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; VEA member Anthony Swann, Virginia’s 2021 Teacher of the Year; Dr. Ronald White of the Spartans Teach Program at Norfolk State University; and La-Neka S. Brown, director of the Teacher in Residence Program at Old Dominion University; and heard a panel of VEA members who are National Board Certified Teachers discuss what that process is like for teachers of color.
Participants also had access to breakout sessions on a wide range of topics, including equity audits, working toward visible inclusion, increasing retention rates among Black boys, the power of a teacher, hip-hop pedagogy and literacy instruction, and White educators and cultural humility.
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