Black Lives Matter Week of Action in School

Black Lives Matter Week of Action in School
Posted on 01/29/2021
In September, the Board of Education designated the first week of every February which this year is Feb. 1-5 as Black Lives Matter Week of Action in School. The Week of Action is a national initiative that focuses on racial justice and equity in the classroom. During the Week of Action all Montclair classrooms and schools will focus on discussing and learning about Black history and culture, institutional racism, civil rights and anti-racism movements, and about how to take actions that will promote equity and fairness in schools. This designation coincided with the Board’s resolution condemning racism and affirming its commitment to an inclusive environment for all as well as adding Juneteenth as a designated holiday on the school calendar. 

The Black Lives Matter at School movement first started in Seattle during the fall of 2016, when thousands of educators in Seattle came to school on October 19 wearing shirts that said, “Black Lives Matter: We Stand Together.” Hundreds of families and students did too. Many of the shirts also included the message “#SayHerName,” a campaign to raise awareness about the often unrecognized state violence and assault of women in our country. This attracted national news, helping it spread to Philadelphia where the Caucus of Working Educators’ Racial Justice Committee expanded the action to last an entire week that year with teaching points around the principles of Black Lives Matter. Educators in Rochester, New York also held a Black Lives Matter at School day in 2017. During the 2017-2018 school year, from February 5 to 9, thousands of educators around the U.S. wore Black Lives Matter shirts to school and taught lessons about structural racism, intersectional black identities, black history, and anti-racist movements for a nationally organized week of action: Black Lives Matter at School. Educators in over 20 cities participated in this national uprising to affirm the lives of Black students, teachers, and families.

TURN! (Teachers Undoing Racism NOW!) is a Montclair organization dedicated to bringing relevant and thought-provoking educational opportunities to Montclair educators throughout the year. TURN will sponsor events during BLM Week of Action at School beginning with the rollout of the Teacher Institute for Black Lives. The Teacher Institute for Black Lives is an opportunity for teachers to share with their best lessons with their peers on any topic related to studies of Africans in the diaspora. The primary goal is for teachers to expand their knowledge of African-American history and Africans worldwide, and then return to their classrooms with better understanding of this topic and ideas for lesson plans.

The Montclair Education Association's Philanthropic Fund is supported by an inclusive union representing more than 1,100 educators employed by the Montclair Public School District. Last year, the MEA challenged everyone to make greater strides towards the establishment of racial justice and equity.

The MEA has established the 8:46 Project designed to support social justice and committed to working towards the eradication of racist practices and pedagogy within the Montclair Public School district and community at large. It strives to educate students, teachers, staff, and community members on the racial issues in education that continue to disproportionately affect Black and Non-Black People of Color within the education system and society.

To help educators plan for Black Lives Matter Week of Action, the Montclair Education Association's 8:46 Project is co-hosting with MapSo Freedom School a curriculum and lesson planning workshop on Sunday, January 31.

On Thursday, February 4, the 8:46 Project will be unveiling the winners of the Black Lives Matter at School logo design contest. Students across the district have sent in logo designs, and the winning designs will be printed on t-shirts that will be worn throughout the community. A winner will be announced in the elementary grades K-5 division and the secondary grades 6-12 division, and there will be a presentation by guest speaker Alfuquan Hardy. This project was made possible through an NJEA FAST/Pride in Public Schools grant.

On Friday, Feb. 5, the 8:46 Project encourages educators to wear Black Lives Matter, and Black Lives Matter At School t-shirts, including the unveiled shirt from the design reveal event the evening prior.


The 8:46 Project also recommends this additional resource, Black Lives Matter At School: An Uprising for Educational Justice.

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