June 15 — 10:40 am, 2020

A love letter to our Black Philly students

From Philly Black women educators and counselors

We are your Black women educators and counselors, your go-to people when life feels hard. We are here to remind you that we are the children of survivors, that Philadelphia has always been a city of resistance – from the native Lenni-Lenape resisting European colonizers to modern-day political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal resisting racist police. We are the children of Black revolutionaries who believed that freedom could be won through collective organizing and principled struggle.

We lift up the local demands from the Black Philly Radical Collective and the national demands of the Movement for Black Lives. The demands are not new, but since more people have taken to the streets, we are finally seeing them turn into wins.

For example, Los Angeles just voted to move $100 million from police departments into social services in Black and Brown communities. Look at that. Here in Philly, Mayor Kenney has rescinded the $14 million increase to the 2021 police budget. And after decades of petitions, marches, and rallies, the statue of the racist former mayor Frank Rizzo was removed in early June. Like other freedom movements across the globe, youth are helping to lead and reimagine the future.

We acknowledge that there is a range of feelings, especially because we are still in a global pandemic. We see those who feel scared, confused, angry, and uncertain. We feel you. We see those students who are not Black, those who are calling out the racism of the state with their families and friends. We teach with you. We see those who feel motivated and ready for change. We resist with you.

We see those who are seizing the spirit of resistance by taking things you need or things to sell. We see your desire for stability. We see the effect that ignored pain, years of trauma, and capitalism have had on you. On all of us. Continue to strengthen your knowledge of self within our current system.

Beware of those who co-opt your rage as if this were a movie, those who won’t suffer the real-life consequences as you will. May your rage urge officials to address youth unemployment and support collective demands around economic justice, so that we are no longer the poorest big city in this country.

Remember, our communities and our culture have been looted for centuries. We know this country taught you that. We are sorry that racial capitalism kept many of you hungry while children of privilege were allowed to hoard and quickly adapt to social distancing, thanks to their resources.

We declare that if the Minneapolis School District can vote unanimously to have police-free schools in their city, so can the School District of Philadelphia. You need care, not cops. Schools need more Black teachers, more Black counselors. More anti-racist training. More funding for toxin-free schools that support healing and transformation.

To our graduating seniors, we see you and we are proud of you. For those of you who are unsettled about moving on to a new chapter and leaving home during a time of uncertainty, remember that home is what you make it. Home is community, and community is all-encompassing. It can be found, it can be built, it can be carried. Should you learn anything from the revolutionary action taking place all around us, learn and understand that community sustains us all.

Lastly, we lift up your power, intelligence, and greatness! We affirm your desire to celebrate Black joy. The ancestors are watching and they are celebrating with you. They know that joy is a part of the revolution. Call on them for guidance, wisdom, and protection. They have never left you, and neither have we.

With love,

Philly Black women educators + counselors

Dr. Mari Morales-Williams, Educator

SynClaire Arthur, Resilience Specialist & Therapist

Angela Crawford, Educator

Sis. Dr. Kelli Sparrow Mickens, Director of Servant Leadership at Sankofa Freedom Academy

Nuala Cabral, Educators for Consent Culture

Stormydhae Kelsey, Media Educator

Saudia Durrant, Youth Organizer

Darasia Selby, Educator

Tenia Thompson, Educator

Iresha Picot, Licensed Behavioral Therapist

Dr. Ayesha Imani, Head of School Sankofa Freedom Academy/Imhotep Institute Charter High School

Dr. Camika Royal, Professor and Chronicler of School District of Philadelphia History

Yolanda Wisher

Dana Carter, Melanated Educators Collective

Nina Elizabeth Lyrispect Ball, Poet, Educator, Activist

Jeannine Cook, Educator and Bookstore Owner

Shanti Mayers, Cultural Worker and Owner of the Sable Collective

Dr. Krystal Strong, professor and organizer

Jos Duncan, Educator and Storyteller

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Educator and Filmmaker

LaTasha Morris, Teaching Artist

Keziah Ridgeway, Educator

Shesheena Bray, Therapist

Biany Perez, Social Worker/Psychotherapist

Blessing Osazuwa, Community-based educator

India Blunt, Program Manager- Education Equity

Kerrin Lyons — Community-based Educator

Marika Meekins

Nasha Taylor, Educator

Dana Barbry Nuble, educator

Samantha Rise Roberson, Co-Director of Girls Rock Philly

Monique Turner, MHS

Monique McKenney

Megan Cannon, ELA and Cultural Coach at Harambee Charter School

Tawana Williams, Coordinator of Special Education at Sankofa Freedom Academy

Katrina Clark, High School Educator

Jasmine Debose, Paraprofessional

Lacey C. Clark, Sisters’ Sanctuary Phenomenal Everywhere

Stephanie Contreras, Counselor

Krystiannicole Nuble, Educator

Sarah Robbins, Professor

Clarice Brazas, Educator

Ellisiah Hall, Educator

Dannyelle Austin, Senior Program Director, YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School

Joanne Douglas, Denkyem River Guardians- Bartram’s Garden

Melissa A. Rowe, Educator

Tamara Anderson, Professor

Connie Grier, Educator

LaToya Winkfield, Educator and Upward Bound Program Director

Ohenewaa D. White-Ra, Educator and BSW Program Director at Alvernia University

Khadijah Seay, Educator

Inella Ray, Youth Worker

Mama Sara Ferguson, Philadelphia Educator

Harriet H. Smith, MSW, Counselor

Khadijah Seay, M.Ed.

Beverly P. Brown, Educator

Elizabeth Williams Wesley, Central High School

Dana Y. King, J.D., Edjurist

Shevela Nalo Carter, Harambee Institute of Science and Technology

Nanyamka Wali

Sherria Mansell-Watts

Tinuke Oyefule, Educator

Fasaha M. Traylor, Co-author, “They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia’s Black Women Leaders”

Allener M. Baker-Rogers, Co-author, “They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia’s Black Women Leaders”

Dr. Angela Campbell, Educator

Sheena Starling, Educator

Ieshia Nelson, Youth Worker

Kris Smith

Reggie Jones, Dean of Health and Wellness, Psychotherapist and Part-time Lecturer

Kelly Sheard

Christina Jackson, Professor and Organizer

Victoria A. Brown, Educator

Satin Jean Lucas, Community Educator

Jennifer Turnbull, Artist & Educator

Dr. Michelle G. Thompson, Educator, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Lamya Broussard MSS, MLSP Founder/Director C.O.M.E. Coming Out More Equipped Consulting

Marcia Hopkins, Youth Worker

Shakira King, Educator

Tiffany Nichole, Day Care Owner in Philadelphia

Tauheedah Asad, Educator

Michelle Kerr Spry, Professor

Sarah J. Jackson, Professor

Erica Snowden, Educator

Maisha Sullivan-Ongoza, MSW, MEd. Retired Director of Say Yes to Education

Gina M. Dukes, Educator

Charlotte Jacobs, Educator

Akilah Abdul-Rahman, Educator

Shakira King, Educator


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