May 2014 Week of Action: Nationwide Actions

On and around May 17, grassroots groups from across the country took part in a National Week of Action. Below is a partial list of the local events and media hits. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest!

Click here for pictures from the Week of Action.

Baltimore, MD

On May 15, parents, students, teachers and community members held a book drive and voter registration event for the community at a historic community school.

Boston, MA

On May 17, a coalition of community organizations, parents, teachers, students and community members held rally, Fulfilling the Promise of Brown v. Board: Organizing for Racial, Educational & Economic Justice. The rally was followed by a community canvass to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage.

Chicago, IL

May 17: A coalition of more than 40 community, faith and labor organizations joined parents, students and community leaders to rally at Pope Elementary school, one of the 50 schools closed last year in a draconian act by “Mayor 1 Percent” Rahm Emmanuel. The rally commemorates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board and includes a full program of speeches and cultural performances. Coalition members then conducted door-to-door canvassing in four neighborhoods to register new voters and get residents to sign a voter “pledge card” committing them to supporting candidates who embrace educational justice and reject corporate education reforms.   

- Chicago Sun Times "Decades After Brown, Some Schools Still Less Equal Than Others, Critics Say"
-Chicago Sun Times "CPS parents mark Brown v. Board of Education decision by highlighting present-day challenges"
-Chicago Tribune "Parents, teachers protest school closing during anniversary of landmark court ruling"
- DNA Info: "CPS 'Still Separate, Still Unequal' Protesters say on 'Brown' Anniversary" 
- Substance News Blog: "The Brown decision in May 1954 did not say 'Close the achievement gap...'"
- Action Now Video of Rally 
- Progress Illinois "Report: School Closures, Charter Expansion Causing 'Catastrophic' Harm To U.S. Minority Communities"
- The Root: "School Closures: A New Version of Separate and Unequal"
- ABC 7 Chicago "Brown v. Board of Ed Celebrated with Protest"

Cincinnati, OH

May 19: Community, labor and faith groups, joined parents, students, and teachers for a rally at the Cincinnati Public Schools offices to mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board. They demanded a speedy and equitable contract settlement, a commitment to racial equity in school funding, full funding for neighborhood-based community schools, the expansion of Community Learning Centers, more teaching, less testing, quality early childhood education, and a living wage.

- Christian Science Monitor: "Ohio school lockdown puts officials at nexus of violence and race: Lessons?" 
- "60 Years after 'Brown,' same-race schools remain"

Cleveland Heights, OH

On Thursday May 15, the new Heights Coalition for Public Education showed the movie "Standardized; Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education" at 7 pm at Grace Church: 13001 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, OH.

Daly City, CA

On May 14, a coalition of educators, students, parents, and community members presented how they have come together to reclaim the promise of public education through Family Education Nights. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, they presented at a school board meeting.

On May 17, the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, shared and presented their vision to reclaim the promise of public education at the Woodrow Wilson Community Fair.

Dallas, TX

On May 13, Our Community, Our Schools commemorated the 60th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education by hosting a Community Conversation about ways to improve Dallas Public Schools. Over 100 people attended. In small groups, participants answered four questions designed to solicit concrete ideas and specific suggestions for improving education for all Dallas children. Parents and others also voiced concern about the attempt by Billionaire John Arnold to turn Dallas Public Schools into a Home Rule Charter School District, a move that, if approved by voters in November, would break up the district and remove the elected school board – essentially leaving education in the hands of the private sector. Participants ended the evening by signing commitment cards pledging to get involved in the movement for educational justice and fighting to make education equal and accessible for all Dallas children. This event was the first in a series of four conversations Our Community, Our Schools plans to hold around the city. Our Schools, Our Community is a newly formed coalition of parents, organized labor, education advocates and civic organizations. 

Dallas Weekly: "Educators Plan Public Actions to Mark 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board"

Houston, TX

On May 8 at 10 a.m., the Houston Federation of Teachers Local 2416, supported by their community partners, held a press conference to release the results of a survey gauging teacher reaction to the Houston Independent School District's proposal to tie teacher compensation to test scores. 

At 4:30pm at the Houston School District Administration Building, educators rallied and held a "Pack the Board" action where school staff, parents and community members spoke at the school board meeting against proposed changes in teacher compensation citing the negative effect it will have on schools, teachers and students.

Jackson, MS

Information coming soon!

Kansas City

On May 17, the Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School Related Personnel and their community partners travelled in a “Reclaim the Promise Caravan” to Topeka to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. In Topeka they joined AFT Kansas and other union and community partners at the historic Brown v. Board site for a rally followed by a march to the capitol. The rally and march protested continued attacks on public education by the Kansas Legislature, Governor Brownback, the Koch brothers and ALEC. 

Kansas First News: "Hundreds Walk to Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board Decision"
- Kansas City Star: "About 300 teachers and education advocates rally at Kansas statehouse"
- KMBC: "Teachers Protest Against Brownback at Kansas Statehouse"

Los Angeles, CA

Students from each of the nine campuses that comprise the LA Community College District converged on the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 16, as part of the National Week of Action. Community activists from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and California Calls joined the students to kick off the march with a short rally featuring a student who described his personal journey from school to prison and back again. Several students wore orange tshirts to represent the overspending on the prison system. The 100 spirited marchers stopped at a Chevron gas station to present an "invoice" to oil companies for the money they owe higher education but haven't paid since there is no oil extraction tax in California. The final stop was a park near City Hall where the "prisoners" changed out of their tshirts and into graduation gowns to reclaim the promise of public education.

- Noticias 62: "Piden Los Fondos"

Lynn, MA

On May 19th, the Reclaim Our Schools Coalition, made up of parents, students and teachers, came together to talk about a vision for a world-class education system and work to develop real, community-driven solutions to ensure a great school for every child. . The Reclaim Our Schools Coalition is a collection of parents, educators and community groups working collectively to strengthen the Lynn Public Schools. 

- "Coalition Meets to Spread Vision for Lynn Schools"

Miami, FL

On May 7, the Dade Coalition for Education and Economic Justice, a group of parents, teachers, students and community members testified about its platform in front of the Miami Dade County school board and Superintendent. DCEEJ demanded adequate and equitable funding, a rich curriculum, well-supported educators and a respectful and nurturing school environment.

On May 14, the Dade Coalition for Education and Economic Justice held a rally at Pepper Park in support of their platform. Parents, students and community members shared their vision for quality public education and sign up community members to become Education Voters.

Milwaukee, WI

On May 17, community organizations, parents, students, community members and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association held a "unity parade," working lunch and organizing sessions. The featured keynote speaker was be Donna Brazile.

- CBS 58 "Segregation in Milwaukee"
Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel "60 Years After Brown v. Board of Education, Intense Segregation Returns"

New Orleans, LA

Information coming soon!

- The Times-Picayune: "Civil rights complaint alleges unequal treatment for New Orleans' black public school students"

New York City, NY

On May 17, the Save our Schools Coalition held a march and rally at City Hall Park. Parents, teachers, students, civil rights leaders and community members demanded equitable, community-based education for every child.

On May 21, the Coalition for Educational Justice, the Urban Youth Collaborative and the United Federation of Teachers will rally at Foley Square and march to the Department of Education. They will be calling for New York City to transform 100 schools into community schools and for equity and equality for all schools. 

- Chalkbeat NY: "At weekend rally, a mix of opposition to Gov. Cuomo and state tests"
- Ed Week: "Parents, Educators, Advocates 'Taking Back Our Schools' Rally in N.Y.C."

Newark, NJ

On May 17, parents, students, educators, community leaders and elected officials held a large community convention at Lincoln Park, where they unveiled a community-driven vision for Newark’s public schools.

-Brick City Live: "Report: Mayor-elect Ras Baraka and community leaders to release alternative to Cami Anderson’s ‘One Newark’ education plan"
The Star Ledger: "Activists release alternative education plan to 'One Newark'"
- Ed Week: "Newark's New Mayor Demands Return of Schools to Local Control"
NJ News 12: "Rally held against 'One Newark' Plan" 
- CBS: "Local Leaders Call For Change On Anniversary Of ‘Brown Vs. Board Of Education’"

Philadelphia, PA

On May 17, students, parents, labor leaders, community leaders and activists held a press conference and public rally at Bryant Elementary School, where they distributed voter pledge cards and rally the people around reclaiming the promise of public education.

Evette Jones, PFT staffer and leader of Pennsylvania Coalition Advocating for Public Schools spoke on the 17th:

"We are here today because we know the promise of the Brown decision has not been kept. Both nationally and in our city we have witnessed decades of resistance to school desegregation and providing equality of opportunity for children of color. We are here today because, under a 13 year regime of state control, we are seeing our schools reduced, in the words of Superintendent Hite, to empty shells without the resources that are essential to provide even the bare bones of an education. Our schools threaten to become the shame of the nation, as were the Jim Crow schools of the South in the years before Brown. We are here today to make clear that we will not accept this outcome and will continue the fight to realize the promise of the Brown decision. We recognize that every gain that has been made in the fight for equality has come from the willingness of ordinary people to stand up and fight."

-MSNBC Meilssa Harris Perry Show: "60 Years after Brown V. Board, Inequality in America's Birthplace Grows" 
- Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools "Reclaiming the Promise of Brown in West Philly Today"
- KYW Eyewitness News at 6 
- WTXF Fox 29 News at 6 
- WPSG Eyewitness News 


Pittsburgh, PA

On May 13, the Great Public Schools - Pittsburgh coalition came together with parents, students, educators, community members and labor leaders to rally at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to introduce an education-based agenda that will drive a grassroots voter outreach and mobilization effort through the November elections. Speakers included elected officials, religious leaders, students and parents, all calling on candidates for office to commit to fighting for equitable, fully-funded, high quality public schools for all Pittsburgh students. More info here.

- Pittsburg Post Gazette: "Minister rallies for education equity for 60th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education"
- Yinzercation: "Still Black and White After Brown"

San Francisco, CA

On May 1, the Close the Gap coalition and the United Educators of San Francisco held a press conference and spoke out at the Federal building, followed by a march to the San Francisco Unified School District where they held a rally and spoke to the San Francisco School Board. 

On May 13, members of UESF, AACE, SEIU, gathered at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education. The commemoration featured speakers from Coleman Advocates, Young Community Developers, the San Francisco Education Fund, AACE and the local union of teachers and paraprofessionals, UESF. The group then paraded through Civic Center to the School Board, and the event concluded with a speak-out tying the message of social justice to the current contract fight. More info here.

St. Louis, MO

On May 17 at 10:00 A.M. on the steps of city hall in downtown St Louis, a coalition of community organizations, people of faith, parents, educators, students and community members held a rally commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. They came together for racial and educational justice and to call upon elected officials to join them in using community learning centers as a strategy to improve struggling schools and neighborhoods in the most impoverished communities.

St. Louis Public Radio: Group Calls For "Community Learning Centers"

St. Paul & Minneapolis, MN

May 16: Leaders from the NAACP and St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT), along with students and parents, held a press conference at Obama Elementary to announce plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, which featured several days of activities, including: 

  • A luncheon hosted by the NAACP and SPFT at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. Students, parents, teachers, elected officials and others were in attendance. Mahmoud El-Kati, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College delivered the keynote speech on the famous Supreme Court decision. 
  • SPFT teachers included the Brown decision in their lesson plans for the day

May 18: Preachers at eight St. Paul churches reflected on the Brown decision as part of their Sunday services. This was followed by listening sessions in which union members will hear congregants and community members share thoughts on that historic decision and their vision for strengthening and improving public education. Union members also shedded more light on the recent contract campaign, during which SPFT fought for an inclusive and transparent process that emphasized community input, and how the new contract further sanctions community engagement in school issues. More info here.

- Pioneer Press: "St. Paul, NAACP to mark historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling"

- William Mitchell: "Mitchell students partner with NAACP and Saint Paul teachers union for 60th anniversary of Brown v. BOE"
- Star Tribune: "Segregation gains ground 60 years after historic Supreme Court decision"

Topeka, KS

On May 17, community organizations along with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers held a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The community came together to reclaim the promise of public education, which is under attack from the Kansas Legislature and Governor Brownback. There was a march to the capitol building and a rally with special keynote speakers including AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, followed by a large picnic on the capitol lawn.

- The Topeka Capital-Journal: "AFT president, Kansas labor leaders plan Brown v. Board education rally"
- The Capital Journal Online: "National union leader leads rally for funding, against Brownback"
- The Republic: "Teachers' unions mark anniversary of Brown v. Board with Statehouse rally against governor"
- KCTV: "People in Kansas Rally on the Anniversary of Brown vs. Board Ruling"
The New Journal and Guide: "60 Years Ago- Brown vs. Board of Education, Educators plan public actions for anniversary" 
- Chron: "
Teachers protest governor at Kansas Statehouse"
- Fox 4 KC "60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education"
-Tiger Media Network: "Teachers Rally Education Policy"
- Columbia Daily Tribune: "Teachers rally against Kansas governor"
- The Hays Daily News: "Rallying for change-- again"

Washington, D.C.

On May 17, Parents, students, educators and union and community members gathered at the historic Sousa Middle School from 9:30am–2pm. As part of the original Brown V. Board case, Sousa serves as a backdrop to demonstrate how far the city has to go to create equity for all students. The day will begin with a press conference, which led into an interfaith community breakfast and wrapped up with workshops on several active projects, including organizing around school closures and the community schools initiative. More info here

National Media from Week of Action