Bringing It #61: Justice & The Way Forward
The end of the trial of George Floyd’s murderer raised a tumult of feelings in us. Intense relief at the verdicts. Satisfaction at seeing the murderer led away in handcuffs; satisfaction that the racist tropes of his lawyer failed to work. Gratitude for the humanity of the bystanders who witnessed and recorded Mr. Floyd’s death; heartache for their trauma. Gratitude for the Black Lives Matter movement. Hope that George Floyd’s family and loved ones can mourn and live with some of their burden lifted. Alongside all this, we also felt disgust that anyone had to be unsure of the verdict, despite the overwhelming power of the witnesses, the video, the medical evidence, the skill of the prosecution. It took a huge confluence of suffering, courage, and rage to win a small victory for justice.
We respect why many won’t even use the word “justice” to describe it. George Floyd is gone, and since the start of the trial, Daunte Wright, Ma’Kiah Bryant, Adam Toledo, and Andrew Brown, Jr. have been killed by law enforcement (along with more than sixty other Americans). This nation is so far from being a place where Black lives matter. Yet we would like to keep hold of the word “justice” as we think about Mr. Floyd and his killer. Not in the belief that justice was done. But rather in the spirit of the Biblical injunction: Justice, justice, shall you pursue.
Last summer, in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, and other Black Americans, we wrote you about the need for BT2P and higher education to recommit ourselves to the pursuit of racial justice. We have taken some steps in that long march: The Way Forward grant program, which supported the inspiring projects described below, is one of them. But the work is far from over.
The Way Forward Grantee Spotlight: Uplifting the work of HBCUs in Maryland and North Carolina
Today we’re excited to continue highlighting projects supported through our Way Forward grants initiative. Here we showcase two projects in Maryland and North Carolina that are partnering with other institutions on cultural proficiency and staff professional development.
HBCU Morgan State University’s School of Education and Urban Studies, along with Baltimore City Public Schools and other local higher ed institutions and community organizations, will formalize a network of institutional partners focused on cultural proficiency (known as the Maryland Cultural Proficiency Collaborative). They will convene a statewide conference, develop certificate-granting cultural proficiency programs for undergrads, grad students, and practitioners, and develop a digital resource hub with best practices for educators, social workers, and public health practitioners who engage with youth. “Our aim with the Maryland Center for Cultural Proficiency is to transform higher education and P-12 by equipping teachers, equity leaders, social workers, community health practitioners, and other youth-serving workers with the skills, knowledge, and resources to inform their practice in meaningful, impactful, and culturally-responsive ways,” says Thurman Bridges, project Co-Principal Investigator from Morgan State University.
In a project titled “Uncommon Conversations: Learning and Growing through an Educational Exchange,” HBCU North Carolina A&T State University and Mars Hill University will create a cross-campus faculty institute with monthly meetings focused on developing and implementing strategies that contribute to culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy and faculty professional development. This will examine implicit and explicit bias, the power of language in the promotion of diversity and inclusion, and strategies that facilitate the engagement of faculty, staff, students, and administrators beyond the classroom and campus for racial equity. “This educational collaboration – a first for our two universities – is an exciting opportunity that will positively affect both communities as we strive to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the classrooms and on the campuses,” says Oliver M. Thomas, project Co-Principal Investigator from North Carolina A&T State University.
We are thrilled to be supporting and uplifting this important equity work in Maryland and North Carolina. We look forward to sharing the progress of these projects and others in future editions of Bringing It.
The Way Forward Podcast Update
Thanks to everyone who has been downloading and cheerleading our podcast, The Way Forward: Higher Education in a Time of Crisis. Since our previous Bringing It, two more episodes have been released. David speaks with Adam Bush, Provost of College Unbound, about leading an experimental college that has been so successful at supporting and graduating working adults. And his discussion with Michelle Fine (CUNY Graduate Center) explores how higher ed institutions can work more deeply and equitably with marginalized communities. These are vibrant conversations. Have a listen at Apple Store, Audible, Spotify, and Stitcher, and spread the word.
When not at work for BT2P, members of our team have been staying busy and involved with projects near and dear to their hearts.
Over the past year, Kelly served as Operations Manager for an international art project called TELEPHONE. The project wrapped earlier this month and was celebrated with multiple online gatherings and panels that coincided with the launch of the online TELEPHONE gallery. This virtual game of telephone began with one message, passed from one artist to another for creative response and interpretation. Then that new work was sent to another artist. Again and again and again. More than 900 artists from 72 countries participated in the project. For more info and to view the creative works produced, please visit: https://phonebook.gallery/
As Chair of the North Carolina Youth Advisory Council (YAC), Todd was a featured speaker at the State Youth Council (virtual) Spring Convention on April 10th. This annual gathering brings together youth councils from across the state to celebrate the achievements of the past year, present awards to councils and individual members, and honor graduating seniors. Todd was appointed to the YAC by Governor Roy Cooper in 2017, and appointed as Chair in January of this year. He is meeting with the NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement, the entity within the Department of Administration that houses the YAC, later this week to begin planning statewide programming for the 2021-22 year.
As always, we hope you will share news of your work, your responses to our work, and your thoughts and ideas.
With thanks for everything you do,
David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd