Educators United to rally for anti-racism and equity in Hampton Roads schools


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A group of teachers in Hampton Roads has a message: They will make sure the education system is equitable, and they will promote anti-racism across all schools moving forward.

That group is called “Educators United” and it has a rally planned for this Friday to spread the word.

Melissa Smith and Michala Cardwell are two of the teachers behind the rally.

“We really feel like our community is primed for the conversation. There’s a lot of educators who look more like I do and our experiences are not the same,” said Michala. “For a lot of people, they haven’t really sat enough with their colleagues who have experienced racism to hear the stories and understand, and we want them to be able to understand because that’s how you build empathy. We need to build relationships with one another, and that’s how we can really keep moving education forward and really putting the anti-racism education in our educational school system.”

“I’ve had several experiences in elementary school, middle school, college, and even in my teaching career that really been detrimental, all through the lens of racism, and I am one person, but that really has affected me in a negative way. And if I’m one person and it’s affected me in a negative way, think of the impact it has had on other black and brown students,” said Melissa.

“We need everybody to understand the situations and experiences of our educators of color and take those experiences and be determined not to repeat them and work together to create systems, curriculum, that really embrace diversity while not shying away from our history. We need to face our history, too, because that is a part of where we came from, but not all history needs to be repeated,” said Michala.

“We cannot go back. We cannot stay where we are, and we cannot go back to where we’ve been. And the idea of us being kind and loving and good and nice teachers? Those are all wonderful qualities, but we have to be good, kind, happy, nice, anti-racist teachers,” said Melissa. “We are educators. Educators are passionate, and we love kids, and kids deserve to know the full story and … I’m very optimistic. I do believe that there is room for change. I do believe that we’re on the right path. And the thing I’m really passionate about is we’re not going to stop, you know? There are educators out there that are not going to stop, and we’re a group of them. Now that we’re on this trajectory and we’re on this path, we are not going to stop.”

Friday’s rally is family-friendly. Parents, teachers, and students are encouraged to attend to listen to vocalists, a local author, and other speakers talk about the importance of promoting anti-racism across all schools.

The “Educators United for Equity and Anti-Racism in Schools” rally is this Friday, July 10 from noon to 2 p.m., at Mount Trashmore, Shelter 1.

If you plan to attend, click here to let the group know.

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