It’s an important moment, teachers say, to come together and reject the bias and systemic racism that have been present in our society and our schools for far too long. In East Hartford, educators, students, community members, elected representatives, and CEA leaders gathered Saturday for a Black Lives Matter march and rally to show their support for East Hartford children and the community.
East Hartford teacher and rally organizer Monique Butler says that she wants East Hartford students to know that “their teachers are here for them, their community is here for them, that we care.”
“Why do black and brown students not graduate at the same rate as white students?” asks CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who last year spearheaded a major CEA initiative to increase the number of people of color entering the teaching profession in Connecticut.
“Why do black and brown children not enter into honors classes at the rate that their white classmates do?” Nicholas continues. “Why do they not have the same academic standing? Why do black and brown parents have to have ‘the talk’ with their children about how they talk and move when addressed by the police? George Floyd’s dying words were, ‘I can’t breathe.’ How is it that anyone can breathe and flourish in a society that, at best, views them as inferior and has put up roadblocks to keep them disadvantaged and fearful for their well-being? The answer is simple: racism, bias, prejudice. That is why we rally.”
CEA President Jeff Leake said that rallies and marches are important ways for teachers and student to make their voices heard, and that voting and contacting legislators are also vital steps to take.
“Contact people that make decisions and say, ‘You’ve got to do something,'” said Leake. “We’re here to say, we’re with you. Let’s make something happen.”
Butler emphasized that Saturday’s rally was just a first step. “We’re going to have discussions, we’re going to have those courageous conversations. It’s about what’s next. How do we put pressure on politicians? How do we make sure that everyone gets out to vote?”