I spend lots of time
Talking, teaching and modeling
Voice, empowerment and courage for students.
I tell them,
“Plant your feet on the ground,”
“Like roots are about to shoot out of your feet.
Let your energy roar out
And own the space.”
I’m just realizing that
It really isn’t that easy!
Right now my feet don’t feel like
They’re shooting anything down.
This is straight up nerve wracking.
If they were here they’d be rolling
Over laughing on the floor.
I’m thinking of them tonight.
I want to thank all of you
For the recognition,
For the visibility and
For the energy you
Are sharing with me and in a way
with the students and families
I serve and work with.
I want to take time to recognize
That we stand on lands
That once belonged to the
Eno, Shakori and Occaneechi tribes.
And also take time to honor
The sacrifice of the people who
Built this university —
Africans, African descendants, Black Americans.
I honor all of them
Because without their pain and sacrifices
None of us would be here right now.
This afternoon I celebrate all of us
Who continue to seek awareness,
But that push past the wokeness
To act urgently.
Who educate like their hair is on fire.
Those that work hard to
impact the lives of those children and families
That a lot of people
are furiously trying to push out,
To dispose of.
Our work is critical,
And I see you.
We are bound together by a vision
Of transformation, of justice,
Of shared power through
An education that liberates, That transforms and
That is fully transparent about
The hard history of this country,
And especially about the
Continued struggle for justice and equality.
I’d like to thank Dr. Dana Griffin
For encouraging me to pursue,
and to act.
She has impacted hundreds of kids
Through her impact on me.
Pre-service education changes lives.
Especially when you prepare future educators
To question the system,
Act to disrupt injustice
And empower students to do the same.
To my family for understanding my urgency.
For being willing to sacrifice
A lot of our time together.
This work is incredibly isolating
And my family is the perfect antidote to that.
Los amo eternamente.
People ask me often,
“But what can I Do?
It seems hopeless.”
To all of you out there
Who are Aware, woke, or just know
About injustice and oppression
And how they impact our students,
But can’t seem to act to help disrupt:
There is a role for everyone.
Reflect on your talents,
Jot down some ideas
And put a date on it.
We live in the urgency of now!
Put a date on it!
You better bet
Our students need you more than ever.
Thank you. Gracias.