Raising Our Voices for Justice

Man walking with child

This has been a tough summer for our nation – and our team at Education Pioneers – following the fatal shootings of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, five police officers in Dallas, and three police officers in Baton Rouge. These events have caused great anguish and outrage here at EP. And I can only begin to imagine how difficult this summer has been for families, children, and communities of color, and for all of those who have lost loved ones.

Following a recent EP Town Hall meeting, a diverse group of EP staff, across teams and levels, and including EP’s staff of color affinity group, took the initiative to draft the following statement:

We at EP are extremely saddened and disappointed with the ongoing events that fatally affect the lives of innocent black men in our nation.

The mission of Education Pioneers is to improve K-12 education for all students, especially low-income students and students of color. The acts that have occurred directly contradict our organization's core beliefs of equity and access.

We believe that black lives matter. And it is incredibly important that we continue to be reflective about and critical of the systems and institutions that adversely affect the very communities we seek to serve. As education professionals committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we serve and stand by young people of color, families of color, and communities of color.

I wanted to share this statement and publicly thank the EP team members who put it together. In writing it, the authors exemplified a number of EP’s core values (including courage, collaboration, and action) and honored our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am deeply grateful to them for raising their voices for justice and doing so in a way that reflects widely-shared beliefs and feelings across the EP team. I stand with them, I echo their words, and I believe that black lives matter.

At this critical time for our nation, I also wanted to share some related thoughts on the public education system, the criminal justice system, and our work at EP.

EP’s mission and work focuses on recruiting and developing diverse leaders and supporting key organizations to transform K-12 education—that’s why we exist and where I believe we as an organization can make the biggest difference for students, families, and communities.

At the same time, I recognize the deeply rooted systems and structures that deprive so many students of color and low-income students of the opportunity to live a full life and reach their full potential. As I wrote last year, our nation’s public education system and criminal justice system are inextricably linked in perpetuating inequality and inequity—along racial lines. I believe it’s important to call this out while simultaneously working for equity in education for underserved students.

We’ve seen too much senseless killing in our nation this summer – and long before. Pointing out inequality and inequity wherever we see it is especially important when there is such a great gulf between the moral foundation of our nation – that we are all created equal and endowed with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and the lived experiences of people of color. Courageous protestors who employ non-violent civil disobedience to shine a light on this injustice – and the brave police officers like those in Dallas who protect them – are worthy of our highest esteem.

Dr. King was right when, more than 50 years ago, he wrote that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Like so many colleagues I work with inside and outside of EP, I feel a strong sense of duty to continue the long, hard struggle that has been fought by millions over the centuries to end injustice in our country. We are now at a critical juncture as a nation and a people that requires the very best of us—indeed, to be better than we have been. We have a moral responsibility to raise our voices and come together to advance justice and peace in our nation.  

  

Scott Morgan Scott Morgan is the Founder of Education Pioneers. He founded the organization in 2003 to identify, train, connect, and inspire a diverse group of leaders and managers to accelerate systemic change across the education sector. An educator, attorney, and social entrepreneur, Scott believes that talented leaders from diverse personal and professional backgrounds can transform education for all students. Follow Scott on Twitter at @scottmorgan1.

 

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