pictured: Educators For Change l/r from front to back row; Ebony Bullock -Assistant Superintendent., Dr. Tiffany Nyachae- Assistant professor, Demario Strickland- Principal, Tanika Shedrick- Principal, Heather Short-English – principal, Naomi Cerre- Assistant Principal., Sharon Cottman – Board President, Greg Johnson- Principal, Jennifer Stockmeyer-principal, Derek Baker, Principal, Joelle Rozier Instructional Specialist, Ms. Gayle Irving White-Principal, and Gregelle Fulcher Assistant Principal
“Our Students Matter.” “I Won’t Be Silent.” “My Life Matters.” “Our Color is Not a Threat.” Those were just a few of the many hundred’s of signs held up during last Tuesday’s protest at the steps of City Hall where over 500 local educators, parents and students gathered for a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. They addressed systematic racism and demanded change of not only in what we see happening with the policing of our communities, but the racism African Americans are experiencing within every level of schooling from elementary to higher education.
Key organizer Demario Strickland said that educators need to meet the needs of the students and families they serve and that White people need to understand their privilege and use it as leverage to ensure that “Black Lives and Minds Matter.”
“We need to be sure to infuse blackness into the curriculum so that they see themselves in their text,” he said. “We need to recruit and retain high quality Black teachers for this profession … we need to have difficult conversations challenging the thoughts and beliefs we have of our students, like those teachers that have a deficit way of thinking or call our students out of their name.”
•Instructional specialists Joelle Rozier emphasized the need to end teacher silence.
•Teacher Educator Tiffany Nayachae voiced the need for teachers with healthy racial identities.
•Principal Tanika Shedrick was adamant that we instill ancestral sprit and empowerment to our Black youth and calls the recent protest an Uprising. ” We have to empower our young people to speak up and speak out. We have to empower them to march with integrity and dignity on the shoulders of their ancestors.. its time for us to stand up for them, the time is now! ”
•BPS Principals Jennifer Stockmeyer and Gayle Irving-White read the names of victims of police killings during an 8 minute 46 second moment of silence in memory of George Floyd.
Buffalo School Board President Sharon Belton Cottman , expressing pride and optimism, was among the spirited educators in attendance.
The rally wrapped up peacefully. Strickland is collating a list of demands by way of submission with plans for a follow up rally at the end of June. Time and place to be announced.
-Challenger Staff Writer