Words of Wisdom from Indy’s Black Male Educators


One of the most popular conversations in education is the need for more black male educators. Schools all over the country are looking for ways to increase the number of black male educators in their schools. Research and experts have expressed the need for schools to increase the number of black male educators. In just about every major city there is an initiative to increase that number. Currently, black males make up roughly two percent of the teaching force. Here in Indianapolis, where I live, I believe the number is right around the same. I know personally growing up seeing black male educators was not normal. I strive now to be a positive example, but more importantly to set a great example.

There is a no secret the power a black male educator can have on a school and community. Black male educators are some of the best mentors inside and outside of school for black students; the also have an impact on students of other races as well. Black male educators can shape perspectives of students as they grow up. They shape the perspective they have for black men in general just by the experience they have with them in school.  

I want to use this blog to introduce you to three black male educators in Indianapolis, who are doing amazing work to change the narrative and make an impact in education. 

Tolvi Patterson, Project Ready Coordinator Ben Davis High School

Being a black male educator means I have been given the opportunity to show forth my voice, utilize my influence, and revolutionize the educational platform. As a black male educator, I have the ability to see myself in my black students which makes it easier to build a connection that quite frankly is very hard for others to make.

For me, being a black male educator means moving the bar higher and equipping my students with the tools necessary for them to succeed in life. It’s understanding the backstory of the student that nobody wants to listen to, it’s dealing with the trauma, it's being a mother, father, big brother, pastor, leader and friend.

Being a black male educator is about being a hero and getting dirty, wearing every hat necessary and dismissing all stereotypes that say black men don’t care. It’s being a Father to the fatherless and loving them through everything good or bad. It’s protecting them and showing them what excellence looks like!

Lastly, being a black male educator is standing when you are weak and tired and knowing that your fighting for everyone who looks like you! It’s joy, pain, heartache, and reward. Being a black male educator is being present every day even when you have nothing left to give.

Byron Holmes, Director of Culture Urban ACT Academy


We are in an ever-changing world. Communities once plagued with drug-infested streets are now being restructured with new and refurbished buildings, retails spaces, real estate investment, community gardens, and I think it’s safe to say that hip-hop has successfully taken over the world. The internet has made entrepreneurship easier than ever, consumer technology is as accessible as its ever been AND STILL, there is no other field I would rather be in than education. 


I am humbled and honored at the task of helping mold, develop and inspire young minds on a daily basis. Being able to have a positive influence on students daily, many of which are battling adverse childhood experiences is a delicate and important job. That said, I am elated to see the influx of Black Male Educators #BMEs across the country in general and am especially the proud to be among such a phenomenal group of men that have accepted the challenge in the greater Indianapolis area. With the infusion of #BMEs into the school environment, we are able to reintroduce the world to Black men in ways that highlight the diversity we have in our learning, teaching, and leadership styles. In addition to that, we are able to disarm negative stereotypes held by people both within and outside of our culture and communities, thus ensuring that the legacy of the great #BMEs such as Dr. Carter G. Woodson, WEB DuBois, Booker T. Washington, and Matthias Walcox, lives on through our work.  So, what does it mean to be a Black Male Educator? It means that we are world changers, influencers, and keepers of a sacred and rich tradition.

Allen Mickens, Assistant Principal Tindley Preparatory Academy

A gift and a purpose provided by God! My name is Allen Mickens and I am a black male educator. Specifically, I am the Assistant Principal at Tindley Preparatory Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana. Being a BME comes with such great responsibility and it is truly an honor to be a part of this special band of brothers. The impact that we have on the youth every day is truly one of a kind and it stretches beyond just what we do in the school setting. The way we carry ourselves outside of the educational setting is extremely essential as well. Why is this? Our scholars look to us to be role models, to nurture, and to hold them accountable in a loving manner. The impact and possibilities that we possess is limitless and truly untapped as more of us are coming into existence. I am a BME and I will be a champion for our kids and fight for them as long as I breathe!

Being a black male educator might not be an easy task, but it is rewarding for both the black male educator and the community.  Being two percent of the teaching force is not acceptable, but we know through intentional actions of the two percent of brothers holding it down in education, we will be able to increase this number and the impact in classroom across the country.


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.