April 01, 2015 13:35 Age: 3 yrs

Inspired in Memphis: AF Parents Participate in BAEO Symposium

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For the third consecutive year, several Achievement First parents attended the Black Alliance for Educational Options Symposium. The symposium, held this year in Memphis, is designed to inform, inspire and empower African-American parents, educators, elected officials, clergy and emerging leaders about high-quality educational options for low-income and working-class African-American families. Below are excerpts from our parents’ reflections about their experience.

Terri, Brooklyn:

At the conference, Dr. Howard Fuller, founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, shared his favorite quote: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass

These words resonated in my mind and are now etched in my spirit. As a mother and a passionate parent advocate, it was beautiful to see the Symposium room filled with hundreds of people aligned to a common purpose: creating access to high-quality educational options for children of color. The sense of urgency was palpable. Dr. Fuller told us that our voices are the path to progress and progress equals power. To say that I was moved by the BAEO Symposium would be an understatement. This experience has informed, inspired and empowered me to be a stronger parent advocate and a source of strength for my community.

Natasha, Brooklyn:

The BAEO conference ignited a fire for advocacy in my heart. BAEO’s mission—to increase access to high-quality educational options for low-income and working class African-American families—is a cause I’m extremely passionate about. I met accomplished professionals and trailblazing parents from across the country as we joined together, sharing ideas and gaining footing for the next step in education reform. I am already preparing for next year’s conference.

Carl, Hartford:

It was great to see people from so many charter schools and schools of choice come together from across the country, and to hear from Dr. Howard Fuller who shared his story of struggle with the educational system in the United States. I was impressed with the educational movements going on in different places, especially in southern states with low-performing schools. It made me look at public education in our area, and think about how important it is to establish neighborhood conversations about our local school options. It is so important to lobby at the state level to improve our schools and make sure all students receive the best education possible so that they can compete at the global level.

Marisol, New Haven:

Attending BAEO was the best experience of my life. I always felt that I wanted to help, and I’ve always volunteered in different agencies, but when I went to BAEO and met Dr. Howard Fuller, I knew right away that this work was my calling. This conference made me realize that we cannot let the previous sacrifices of others—made in times when being a person of color, being poor, and being an immigrant were even harder—be in vain. I want to make a difference. I came back full of ideas. I want to be the voice that helps parents learn more about the important issues we learned about at BAEO.

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