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Activist gathering links education, social justice

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Education activists from across the nation gathered in Philadelphia for a July conference titled "With All Deliberate Speed: Social Justice and the Future of Public Education" – organized by the National Coalition of Education Activists (NCEA).

Focusing on the legacy of the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education in public education today, almost 300 teacher, parent, and student activists attended workshops on issues such as youth organizing, bilingual education, school privatization, multicultural curriculum, and parent involvement.

"People got their batteries recharged," said NCEA Executive Director Harold Jordan.

Historian Vincent Harding – who began his more than 40 years as an activist working in Georgia as part of the Southern freedom movement during the 1960s – delivered the conference’s keynote speech.

Harding emphasized that the families who initiated the 1954 Brown v. Board case that ultimately went to the Supreme Court were "people asking everyday questions" about justice and became "part of a grassroots struggle for expanding democracy."

The conference’s closing session featured educator and activist Michelle Fine, who screened excerpts of a video and educational DVD she co-produced called "Echoes of Brown: Youth Documenting and Performing the Legacy of Brown v. Board."

Jordan commented that the presentations by Harding and Fine served to put the struggles of public education activists in a wider context.

"It’s really about democracy, social justice, and addressing inequality," he said.

NCEA’s next conference will take place in Philadelphia during the summer of 2005.

For more information, contact NCEA at 215-735-2418 or visit www.edactivists.org

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