We Need Wakandan Principles in Our Society

Shawnta and Jermaine Barnes

Shawnta and Jermaine Barnes

When it comes to movies, I’m a Netflix and chill kind of girl.  I typically watch movies after all the spoilers have appeared online.  My husband, on the other hand, wants to be in the movie theater the weekend a film is released.  What typically happens is my husband goes to the movie theater alone, with colleagues or with friends.  

Last weekend was different.  Even though I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my own home in my pajamas without the overpriced snacks, I knew I would be entering a movie theater during a premiere weekend.  The fact that my husband arranged for our boys to stay with his mother for the weekend was a dead give away.  He rarely ever makes the arrangements for our children (that’s my job), so I knew he was serious.  He wasn’t alone. 

“On my way to Wakanda!”  

I saw this status appear multiple times, in addition to pictures moviegoers in African dress, on social media.  It was great to view the positivity and excitement on my social media feed for Black Panther, a movie with a black director and predominantly black cast about a black superhero.

Even though I don’t like going to the movie theater, there is a myriad of reasons why I, as a black woman, loved this movie.  There were gems of wisdom dropped throughout the film and I believe we, as a society, could learn plenty of lessons from this movie.  

Before you even start flapping your gums to say, “It’s a fictional story,” let me remind you if fiction wasn’t that powerful, we wouldn’t have had book burnings as part of our history or books that are banned now.  Below are the lessons we can learn from Black Panther.

The collective is more important than self.

If you have seen the movie, you know you have done it.  You’ve crossed your arms over your chest and belted out, “Wakanda forever!”  Within that proclamation is so much power.  People in Wakanda put the stability and safety of Wakanda above themselves as individuals.  Every role in the Wakandan society was important and no one was bragging about what he or she had done because it was all about what is good for the society as a whole.  Even when there was conflict, it is resolved for the sake of the kingdom.  

In our highly politicized and capitalistic society, we can’t seem to take self out of the way.  It is all about using people as stepping stones to get to the next level.  Isn’t peace worth giving up some selfish desires?

Women are equal to and maybe even more important than men in society.

Yeah, I just said that.  I felt empowered as a black woman watching Black Panther.  Yes, T’Challa is King of Wakanda, but make no mistake that brother could not have done anything without those strong black sisters using their intellect and physical strength to advise and protect him. 

In our paternalistic society, women are many times seen as less than.  We are seen as less intelligent, physically weaker, and are overly sexualized.  I appreciated in this movie there weren’t any unnecessary scenes of the camera following the curves of the women’s bodies.  The focus was on what the woman had to offer intellectually not on their shape.  Their ideas were listened to and implemented.

We should be proud of our natural beauty.

Okoye, General of the Wakanda’s royal guard, had to wear a wig that had straightened hair during a mission. When she later ripped that wig off and said, “disgrace” in reference to the wig, I almost fell out of my seat during the movie.  Ripping off that wig was symbolic to a lot of black women.  There has been a natural hair movement sweeping across the world with black women and this needs to continue.  I loved how the movie highlighted the various ways black women can rock their hair.  You had Queen Ramonda’s dreadlocks, Princess Shuri’s braids, and Nakia’s natural curls.  

Even though I have been natural for 12 years, it wasn’t until recently that I would leave my house with my hair in its natural curly state.  I would straighten it, twist it, or braid it, but not wear it in an afro.  I’m over that now; I even rock my afro at work sometimes.  Regardless of how a black woman chooses to wear her hair, our society doesn’t have a right to regulate it.

Intergenerational relationships strengthen the community.

In our society, you have baby boomers, generation x, and millennials, but those divisions were nowhere to be found in Wakanda.  The council that advised King T’Challa had people of various ages.  Elders weren’t at odds with the younger generation.  Elders were respected by the young and the elders were willing to implement ideas of the young.

We have a “put out to pasture” mentality in our society where elders are many times seen as out of touch.  Younger generations are seen as taking too many risks.  Wakanda’s council showed how you need a continuum of wisdom from elders all the way down to the youngest to help move society forward effectively.

Be direct about history and forget political correctness.

Another time, I almost fell out of my seat with laughter was when Princess Shuri referred to a white man in the movie as a colonizer.  He responds, “That’s not my name.”  That’s the problem; we are too busy dressing up situations instead of just calling it like it is.  Yes, technically he wasn’t alive when the colonization took place, but Princess Shuri made sure to let him know from the jump that she had no illusions about how Wakanda’s way of life could be endangered by bringing him inside their walls based on history.  She knew he may have had the mentality to exploit and conquer what they had built.  Instead of being politically correct, she addressed the situation head-on.

We can do this too.  Princess Shuri was direct, but she didn’t tear down his character.  Once she established her view and he understood where she was coming from, they were able to move forward and work together.  We will never be able to work together in our society if we can’t be direct about history, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Based on these principles, maybe we should not say “Wakanda Forever” maybe we should say “Wakanda Future!”

 

My Top 10 Black Educators

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In order to make the world a better place, one must push the envelope on what society wants you to do. As an educator, it is my job to not only educate my students but to help them blaze a path to a better life. I believe the students I come in contact with are destined to be great and as a black educator, I stand on the shoulders of giants. In honor of black history and black educators, here are my top 10 black educators:

1. Pulpit to the Classroom: Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne was born a free man in Charleston, South Carolina. Payne became the premier minister of the AME Church. While at the church, he worked not only as a minister but also as a teacher. It was his vision and dedication which led to the founding of Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Wilberforce University was the first black-owned institution for higher learning in the United States.

2. Father of Education Reform: Booker T. Washington is considered by many scholars as the first education reformer in the United States. He was born into slavery, freed and raised in the Reconstruction South, and active in educational reform through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Washington sought to use education to bridge the nation's racial divide. In partnership with Julius Rosenwald, Booker T Washington helped create the Rosenwald Schools which addressed the chronic underfunding of schools for black children.

3. New School Education Reformer: Born and raised in Harlem New York, Geoffrey Canada always wanted to educate the children of Harlem. He led the charge to develop and create the Harlem Children Zone which has not only changed education, but it brought together the community and the school to drastically impact the socioeconomic status of black people.

4. Hollywood Principal: “This is an institution of learning, ladies and gentlemen. If you can’t control it, how can you teach? Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm.” This is one of my favorite lines from the movie Lean on Me about the story of reform principal Joe Clark of Eastside High. Clark is famous for his no-nonsense approach to turn around one of the worst schools in America.

5. My President: Barack Obama was not just the first black President of the United States, but he was also concerned about education. Obama once said, “The status quo is morally inexcusable.” President Obama challenged people to roll up their sleeves and aid in the fight to improve the quality of education in America. America will not succeed in the 21st century unless we do a far better job of educating our sons and daughters. His program such as Race to The Top and ESSA was committed changing the educational landscape in America. 

6. School Board Champion: Mary Church Terrell is one of the original educators in this country. She became the first black woman to ever be appointed to a school board. She is the trailblazer for black women who fought to be educated in this country. Mary Church Terrell knew the only way to get anywhere is to be educated. Terrell was very active in the Washington, DC area. She served on the Columbia School Board from 1985-1911. It was during her time on the school board she fought for equality in the city’s segregated school system.

7. First Female PhD in Mathematics: Euphemia Lofton Haynes was born and raised in Washington, DC. Over the course of her life, she left her stamp in the realm of academics and education. In 1943, she became the first black woman to earn a PhD in mathematics. She is one of the original teacher trainers. In 1930, when Haynes earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago, she went back to DC to found the math department at Miner Teachers College. The focus was to train black teachers.

8. Trailblazer for Black Women: Dr. Jeanne Noble believed in highlighting the great work of black women. In 1978, she wrote her book Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters:  A History of the Black Woman in America to honor the black women of this country and highlight their importance on society. The book is a collection of tales about black woman and their place in history. Dr. Noble spent her career in higher education working alongside three different presidents of the United States. President Lyndon B Johnson in 1964 asked Noble to help with the Women’s Job Corp. This program was used in the War on Poverty.

9. Civil Rights Activist for Education: Marva Collins was an influential teacher and activist for education in the 20th century. She worked tirelessly to gain equal rights in education for black students. Collins began her career as a substitute teacher in Chicago and worked there for fourteen years. After working she cashed in her pension and then open her own school Westside Preparatory School in 1975. Her teaching method, known as the Marva Collins Method, was chronicled in her 1989 book, The Marva Collins Method:  A Manual for Educating and Motivating Your Child. Collins believed, “Kids don’t fail, teachers fail, school system fail. The people who teach children that they are failures – they are the problem”

10. A Teacher Champion for us All: It was a Ted Talk that motivated me and the entire world. Rita Pierson was a heartfelt, funny, passionate educator who inspired the entire educational community with her simple message that every child, rich or poor, deserved a champion. She was a passionate educator who taught kids for over forty years and believed in the power of human connection. Pierson truly believed in every child. “Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possible be.”

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

We Aren’t Going to Do Anything About School Shootings

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By Andrew Pillow

America is still reeling from a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. If I had written this article 10 days ago, I could have easily substituted “Parkland, Florida” for “Oxon Hill, Maryland” in that first sentence. If I had waited to write this article next week, I probably could have substituted it for some city or small town yet unknown.

Unfortunately, this trend toward school shootings will likely continue and for a very obvious reason: We are not doing anything to fix it. I'm not being cynical. I'm just making an observation.

This doesn’t mean that people don’t care, or people don’t want change. On the contrary, nothing can be further from the truth. In the aftermath of one of the deadliest school shootings in American History, social media, and the blogosphere lit up with hot takes and think pieces touching on everything from gun control to gun culture. Clearly, people want something to be done.

The issue appears to be that the right people don’t want change. The simple truth is this: The political will does not exist to prevent school shootings.

Political will, of course, isn’t stagnant and it can change. However, we have been in this deadlock for what seems like an eternity. Here is the typical format of a school shooting:

Step One – Shooting Occurs

The shooting happens. It usually doesn’t take long for it to trend on social media depending on how bad it is.

Step Two – Questioning

“Any deaths or injuries?”

“How many?”

“What color is he?”

“What religion is he?”

“What is the motive?”

Step Three – Political Conversation

This is where politicians began to cite the tragedy in their arguments for their agenda. For the liberals, it is almost always a jump start for a gun control debate. For the right, it depends on the ethnic and religious identity of the shooter.

Step Four – News Cycle Passes

Yep. That’s it. We care a whole lot for a little while. Then we move on. And in spite of our “never forget” rhetoric following a tragedy, America is REALLY good at moving on.

So why is it this way? Why can’t we move past this?

1.       The pro-gun lobby can weather the storm

It is impossible in America to reach critical political mass for any issue in one week. Which happens to be the extent of a news cycle. Pro-Gun republicans and the NRA can afford to take it on the chin for a week and get back to business later.

2.       Liberals don’t vote against guns

Most liberals favor more gun control and will openly say that. However, because the Democratic base is so vast, and their desires so diverse, gun control tends to be an issue that gets lost in the sauce until there is a shooting.

Pro-gun conservatives make it clear to their politicians that gun rights are not just some random issue in the conservative bucket of grievances. For a lot of conservatives, it is the main issue they vote on. As long as gun legislation matters significantly more to the pro-gun crowd than the anti-gun crowd, the anti-gun crowd will lose.

3.       Liberals are more likely to cater to the other side than conservatives

Go look at any election in a red state. Whatever Democrat is running is so scared to be perceived as “taking guns away” that they virtually ignore gun control altogether. Whereas conservative politicians won’t give an inch.

The people conservatives vote for will fight for gun rights. The people liberals vote for will claim they want more gun control in closed circles but deny it in mixed company.

None of these things have to be this way. Gun control has to become as important to liberals as “gun rights” are to conservatives. Liberals have to extend the debate beyond the news cycle. Democrats have to come out as gun control advocates and stay out. All of these things can be done. But we’ve been here before...and if history is any indication, we will be having this same conversation next week.

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Celebrating Black History Month: Black Pioneers in Politics

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Politics is such a sensitive topic. It is especially sensitive when discussing the lack of black people involved in politics. Although more minorities are running for and winning political offices, policy still isn’t in our favor and our voices are still barely being heard. Despite this, it is still time to celebrate. Today, we are at the table when not too long ago we weren’t even allowed through the door. Let’s celebrate those who have worked and those who continue to work to change policy and fight for our rights.

Hiram Revels - He was the first Black Congressman in the United States. He served in the United States Senate.

Pinckney Pinchback - He was the son of a former slave and fought in the Civil War. He was the first black person to serve as U.S. state governor. He served as governor of Louisiana from 1872-1873.

Carol Moseley Braun - She was elected in 1992 and represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate. She was the first black woman elected to the Senate.

Thurgood Marshall - He was the first black person to serve as Supreme Court Justice. He was the 96th Justice and he served from October 1967 to October of 1991.

Susan Rice - When she was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama, she was the first black woman to serve as the US ambassador to the United Nations.

David Paterson - He was the first black governor of New York.

Deval Patrick - He was the former Governor of Massachusetts. He was the first black person to serve as governor of the state when he served from 2007-2015.

Colin Powell - He was the first black person to serve as U.S Secretary of State and the first and only black person to serve as the Joint Chief of Staff.

Carl Stokes - He was the first black person to be elected as Mayor of a major city when he was elected in 1968 in Cleveland.

Harold Washington - He was elected to be the 41st Mayor of Chicago in 1983. He became the first black person to serve as mayor of Chicago.

Barbara Jordan - She was the first black person to be elected to Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. She was also the first black woman to give a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

Shirley Chisholm - In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress. In 1972, she became the first black woman to be a candidate for mayor from a major political party. She was also the first woman to run for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination.

Michelle Obama - She was the first black woman to serve as the first lady of the United States of America.

Barack Obama - He was the first black person to be elected and serve as President of the United States of America.

 

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

How to Teach Black History Properly in School

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By Andrew Pillow

Black History Month is underway. Since its inception, Black History Month has grown to become an important part of the American educational curriculum. It seems like every year more and more schools, businesses, and government entities are taking part in celebrating Black History Month.

However, some schools have imperfect ways of teaching black history. While teaching it is certainly better than not teaching it, we have advanced far enough to start pushing teachers to engage in better practices around African American history.

So how do we make sure we are properly teaching students black history?

1.       Don’t wait until February

One of the original purposes of Black History Month was to encourage schools to educate students on black pioneers and accomplishments. We have set aside a special month to do this, but that doesn’t mean you should ONLY teach black history during that month. If you teach any kind of American History class, and you somehow neglect to talk about the contributions of African Americans until February, then you are doing it wrong.

It's perfectly fine to do some type of special project or celebration during the month of February, but students shouldn’t get the impression that black history only matters for 28 days a year. It’s not seasonal. 

2.       Make it more advanced for older students

There is no bigger Martin Luther King Jr. fan than I, but students shouldn’t spend 100% of their black history time learning about MLK every single year. By the time most American students leave elementary school, they have a pretty good idea about the teachings and life of MLK. We should use that knowledge and build on it to teach about other icons and their accomplishments. 

Every other subject in school get’s harder and more advanced as you get older. Black History should be the same way. I taught my 5th graders about Fredrick Douglass and slavery, but my 8th graders learn about Claudette Colvin and SNCC.

3.       Remember that you are living history

A history lesson is never more powerful than when it is relevant. Race issues didn’t magically disappear. The accomplishments African Americans achieve today are made possible by those in the past.

Find ways to study current events and even tie them into the past. For example, in my class, we drew parallels from the shooting of Crispus Attucks in the Boston Massacre to the cases of police brutality today. We used Simone Manuel defying stereotypes to win a gold medal in swimming, to segue into a conversation about Jesse Owens.

As Black History Month continues, I hope that educators try and teach the subject matter honestly and authentically.

Following the suggestions above will give you a good start, but it really is mostly a mindset. You have to ask yourself:

Am I teaching this to check a box... 

or am I doing it to educate my students?

As long as you are trying to do the latter, you will probably be alright.  

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Whose Child Has to Die for Gun Reform to Take Place?

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Whose child has to die for gun reform to take place?  I want to know because the lack of change must mean the wrong children have died.  Their parents will have to bear the most significant burden life could hurl their way - outliving a child.  These parents must not have suffered enough.  Their pain, mourning, and forever shattered lives are not broken enough for policy to change.

Which teacher or coach needs to be gunned down while shielding students from a barrage of bullets?  Their children must not be important enough for us to fight for change.  We must be okay with educators’ children wondering if their parents loved their students more than them because they sacrificed themselves to protect their students.

Which student survivors need to be traumatized?  The trauma student survivors face as they watch their classmates take their last breath as they dive into classrooms and duck under desks must not be damaging enough.  That’s right; they should be grateful to be alive and count their blessings.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said in response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, “We just need to step back and count our blessings...we need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically.”

It’s easy to offer up platitudes when tragedy has not come crashing through your door.

It’s easy to pray when your family is not writing a child’s obituary.

Whose child has to die for policymakers to worry less about re-election and more about addressing the issues we elected them to tackle?  

Until our policymakers take action despite the consequences to themselves, then I’m convinced they believe the children who have died in school shootings weren’t important enough, the children who have lost  parents because they jumped in front of their students don’t matter, and the student survivors who can’t shake seeing the life of their classmates slip away are insignificant.

Find out who your elected officials are and where they stand.  Let them know they can’t hide behind prayer and mental health...it’s not like they are reforming our healthcare system to address that either.

Use your power to vote them out of office.  If you vote for them knowing they won’t fight for gun reform then maybe you should ask yourself, “Whose child has to die then?”

Famous Black Hoosiers: Mari Evans

Raven, 4th Grade Student

Raven, 4th Grade Student

Written by Sylvia Denice

As a fourth grade teacher, my Social Studies curriculum revolves around Indiana state history.  It is a long-standing tradition at the elementary school where I teach that fourth graders create a “Famous Hoosier Wax Museum.”  Each student selects a famous person from Indiana to research.  They formulate speeches to inform other students about the lives of the Hoosiers, including their upbringings, careers, and impact on society.  The pinnacle of the project is when students line the hallways of the school dressed as their “Famous Hoosiers” and deliver their speeches to other students in the school community.

Every year, I have brilliant students of color lining the halls dressed as white men like Jim Davis, Larry Bird, Abraham Lincoln, Gus Grissom, and David Wolf.  This year, I decided it was time to update the Famous Hoosiers selection list to better reflect my students.  This meant adding more people of color and women to the list.  This change brought new depth to my students’ presentations and performances.  This used to be a project put aside after presentation day in October, but this year it has transformed into a recurring topic of student discussions.  Students made stronger connections to themselves and the world around them once the Famous Hoosier List was diversified.

I recently sat down with fourth grader Raven to revisit her experience studying and playing Mari Evans in our Famous Hoosier Wax Museum.  Mari Evans “is famous because she was an African-American writer and poet,” Raven recalled.  Evans was associated with the Black Arts Movement and taught at several Indiana universities.  She died in March of 2017 in Indianapolis at the age of 97.

When Raven first heard about the Famous Hoosier project, she explained “[I] wasn’t that excited because [I] was thinking that it was going to be really boring just looking at some ‘famous’ people doing nothing.”  She continued, “now I understand what was going on, and it was really, really fun.  I just felt like I was really Mari Evans.”  Raven selected Mari Evans from the list because of her recognition for writing.  Raven has an affinity for writing as well.  “I don’t write poetry, but we both write, so we have a connection there,” she explained.  “Her poetry is something you should read because they are really deep,” Raven encouraged.  

My class has been celebrating black history this month with highlights including viewing Hidden Figures, reading biographies about Thurgood Marshall, and discussing famous peacemakers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  “I used to think Black History Month meant celebrating slaves,” Raven stated.  “Now I know what it really means is celebrating all black people.  I think [Mari Evans] would really feel special and appreciated,” she added when I shared with her the role Mari Evans plays in our celebration of black history.  Raven would like to encourage readers to visit downtown Indianapolis to see the mural painted in Mari Evans’ honor, and to celebrate all black people!

Access Denied

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Growing up with a grandmother who was an educator raised in segregated Alabama, I always knew how important receiving a good education was.

When I had my children, I looked for the best educational options. As a parent, I desired a quality education for my children in a diverse school setting. It quickly became clear to me that lack of access to a quality education and school segregation was not a thing of the past for the African American community.

I have watched my children's school become more diverse as school choice in Indiana has grown over the past five years. The private school my children attend is still predominantly Caucasian, but each year I see more diversity in the student body.  My children have friends from all different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds because of school choice.

It also became clear to me when I was talking to a family member who is down on her luck, how far we still have to go in providing access to a quality education for everyone. My family member, a single mother, works for a local township school where she was able to enroll her children. She recently lost her car and had been having trouble getting transportation to work and to her kids' school. She was told by her sons’ school if they were late or missed any more days of schools, they would have to return to their assigned school, or they would send her to truancy court.

In my effort to encourage and help this single mother who lives within the boundaries of Indianapolis Public Schools, I helped her research her neighborhood schools. She hadn't looked at them in a few years. I hoped progress had taken place at her neighborhood schools and this option would be a quality one. She has one son in seventh grade and another in fifth grade and both their elementary and middle school options are D and F rated schools.  Looking at charter and private voucher school options would again pose a transportation issue. This mother was torn between sending her children to failing schools to meet the state's requirement to attend school or finding a way to give them access to a quality education. Luckily, she had a co-worker who was willing to help with transporting her boys to school until she gets back on her feet.

During Black History Month, we reflect upon the struggles of black people and the progress we have made.  One area of highlight during this month is our fight for civil rights, but providing access to a quality education is a civil right we are still fighting for in our poor and minority communities today. I had family members who marched to Selma on that Bloody Sunday in 1965, so we could have equality in many areas including education. There are so many poor and minority families who can't access quality education options in 2018. As we continue to improve education options in Indiana and many places across the country, we need to be sure to create access to those options for the families who need them most.  


 

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Cheryl Kirk

Mrs. Kirk is a married mother of three children, 16-year-old twins and a 9 year-old son, who all currently attend private school on a voucher. She is a Gary, Indiana native but has lived in Indianapolis for many years. While trying to provide a quality education for her children she met many obstacles and became determined to access the best education for her children. Cheryl is a licensed practical nurse and has worked in home care, hospice, long-term care, and is currently the clinical director for an assisted living facility.