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What Black Educators Built

From Educational Leadership

By Vanessa Siddle Walker
Segregation-era black educators set the groundwork for an equitable and aspirational education system for all. How can we get back to their vision?

I began teaching in a fully desegregated high school in 1980 under J.A. Freeman, one of the three black principals who survived desegregation as a high school principal in North Carolina. As a young teacher, I embodied the vision for integration. I was the product of a desegregated high school and an elite, predominantly white college. No one I knew talked about the massive firings of black teachers and principals across the South as retaliation during desegregation. I knew nothing about the activities of the black principals and teachers who worked against inequality in formerly segregated schools. In fact, from my perspective, segregation was simply dead. So I ignored the whispers about the earlier life of my principal who had led the segregated black school and instead focused on how to be a good teacher.

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