Commentary By Demetria Rawls
Henrietta Arnold, Kimberly Harmon and Demetria Rawls.
On October 28, 2019, I attended A Crucial Town Hall Meeting focused on Lessons From the Past. It specifically addressed a blueprint for a more productive future in education and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
It was held at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As an educator, I initially was focused on my 13-year-old daughter attending the townhall meeting so that she could learn about the educational inequalities in our community, as well as, possible solutions. But, by the end of the night, I was motivated and reinvigorated to provide the best educational experience for my students.
Between the expertise of Dr. Ben Chavis, diversity of panel guests, and the question and answer opportunity from the audience, it’s difficult to determine what I enjoyed the most.
However, two moments stood out the most to me. First, Dr. Valeria Wanza reminded us that children don’t care to learn until they know their teacher cares. This type of growth mindset can be applied to me both professionally and personally. While raising three African American children in a complex educational system, I must ensure that my children are surrounded with adults who care for them academically and socially.
Secondly, Attorney Eugene Pettis responded personally to my daughter, Samara Rawls and encouraged her to find a purpose as a young person to motivate her generation about the importance of education.
At the end of the night, all those who attended wanted the conversation to continue. While we have made much progress in the education of African American children locally and nationally, much more work is yet to be done.