Webinar: Welcome to the Fight Back! National Movements for Racial Justice in Education

Wednesday October 25, 2017 –

The struggles for racial justice and educational justice have been interlinked from the beginning of our nation’s history. It was under Black leadership during Reconstruction that the South saw the first state-funded public schools. The long, arduous work to win and maintain school integration was a keystone struggle during the Civil Rights movement. And today, the most powerful and energetic movements for education justice — fighting for fair funding, strong neighborhood public schools, and restorative justice — are those that take an intersectional approach to organizing.

The struggles for racial justice and educational justice have been interlinked from the beginning of our nation’s history. It was under Black leadership during Reconstruction that the South saw the first state-funded public schools. The long, arduous work to win and maintain school integration was a keystone struggle during the Civil Rights movement. And today, the most powerful and energetic movements for education justice — fighting for fair funding, strong neighborhood public schools, and restorative justice — are those that take an intersectional approach to organizing.

Join us for this important discussion, moderated by the Schott Foundation, on the intersection of racial justice and education justice. We'll be highlighting three key national networks supported by the foundation: the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, the Journey for Justice Alliance, and the Dignity in Schools Campaign.

Our speakers will include:

  • Keron Blair, National Director, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
  • Jitu Brown, National Director, Journey for Justice Alliance
  • Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, National Field Organizer, Dignity in Schools Campaign
  • Edgar Villanueva (Moderator), Vice President of Programs & Advocacy, Schott Foundation for Public Education

About the Speakers:

Keron Blair 
Keron Blair is an organizer with ten years of experience working for social change. Keron is currently the national director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS). AROS is a national alliance of students, parents, and teachers working together to save public education and to ensure that all children have access to high quality schools that prepare them to participate fully in society. Prior to his tenure with AROS, Keron was the membership director for United Working Families in Chicago. He was also the field director for Raise Illinois, a statewide campaign to raise Illinois’ minimum wage, and Illinois Unites for Marriage, the campaign that secured marriage equality in Illinois.

Jitu Brown
Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) is a long-time community organizer born on Chicago’s south side. He is a product of Chicago’s public school system and is a proud parent and husband. Jitu volunteered and then worked as Education Organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the oldest black-led organizing community based organization in Chicago in 1991. In his role as National Director for J4J, he leads an alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations in 23 cities across the country demanding community-driven alternatives to the privatization of and dismantling of public schools systems. He has brought great energy and focus to the connection between the attacks on public education and the disempowerment of African American communities all across the country. He was one of 12 parents, grandparents and community members who put their bodies on the line in a 34-day long hunger strike to save Walter H. Dyett High School in Chicago, the last open enrollment High School in the historic Bronzeville community. As a result of their gallant efforts, Dyett High School is the first closed school in the country that has re-opened as an open-enrollment, neighborhood school.

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar 
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar is the national field organizer for the Dignity in Schools Campaign and Co-Founder of Racial Justice NOW! Ohio. The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a national coalition of leaders who parent's, students, grassroots organizers, advocates, teachers, and lawyers from 29 states and Washington District of Columbia. The Dignity in Schools Campaign organizes to end the school to prison pipeline for Black students and other students of color in the United States. Zakiya came to this work as a parent organizer pushing back on punitive and harsh punishment in schools when her 3-year-old was expelled from preschool. Through this organizing, Zakiya and other Black women in Racial Justice NOW successfully pushed the Dayton (Ohio) Public Schools to end suspensions and expulsions in Pre-K. Zakiya's work and advocacy also laid the ground work for equity in Dayton's universal preschool initiative. Zakiya is a proven leader in successfully organizing Black parents to push back on schools that harm our children.