Today, we lift up James Weldon Johnson, the accomplished educator, songwriter, diplomat, and lawyer. In the spirit of excellence, we also send out appreciation to our partner, Teaching Residents at Teachers College, Columbia University. Thank you for creating a program where Black teachers-in-training can thrive.
Today, the Black Teacher Project sends gratitude to the life and career of William Pickens, teacher, linguist, author and early NAACP member. And we give thanks to the Institute for Urban Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, for their crucial support in the beginning of our organization.
The Black Teacher Project wants to show appreciation and acknowledgment to the ancestors who came before—and give thanks to the organizations who partner with us now. Thank you, University of California at San Diego, for all of your support in getting BTP off the ground.
“We want our children educated. The school system in the country districts of the South is a disgrace and in few towns and cities are Negro schools what they ought to be. We want the national government to step in and wipe out illiteracy in the South. Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.
"And when we call for education we mean real education. We believe in work. We ourselves are workers, but work is not necessarily education. Education is the development of power and ideal. We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be, and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people. They have a right to know, to think, to aspire.”
Happy birthday, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. We are celebrating your legacy today and thinking on the ways that Black teachers can bring excellence to their students.
And we want to send out appreciation to the San Francisco Unified School District for being a partner in the work with our San Francisco Inquiry Group. This has been a pilot year for the Inquiry Group and we can't wait to present our findings in May 2017.
I teach because somebody taught me to reach back and pull up my brothers, sisters and our children. I am inspired by my grandmother, who was a teacher; my mother, who was my first teacher; my aunts and uncles, who taught me in special ways; and my students, who I learn from every day.
A teacher for more than ten years, Nicole Henderson currently teaches in San Francisco.
Archie F. Williams (1915 - 1993) taught mathematics and computer science at Sir Francis Drake High School in Marin County, California. His 22-year teaching career was the cap to a long, accomplished life. A teammate of Jesse Owens, Mr. Williams won a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He went on to become an instructor to the Tuskeegee Airmen and spent 22 years in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. You can learn more about him by reading his oral history interview as a part of the University of California Black Alumni Series.
We want to thank one of our partners, the Oakland Unified School District, for pointing us to this oral history series. The Black Teacher Project is honored to be working so closely with OUSD to improve the sustainability of Black teachers in the district. We look forward to building our relationship with OUSD and making space for Black teachers—and their students—to thrive.