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September 2023

COC hosts free training to fight book bans, Black history attacks

By Color Of Change staff

More than 230 parents, educators and community organizers concerned about attempts to erase Black history in public schools attended Color Of Change’s School Board Training to gain tools needed to fight back.

The free virtual training sessions were held Aug. 12 and Aug. 31 and drew people from across the nation. 

Participants received organizing tools to help them determine when and where their local School Board meets, heard about their right to attend public meetings and to address the board during public comment periods. They also discussed national issues, as well as those within their school districts, and talked about how to tell their story at a public meeting. 

COC is providing additional training so that families can have even more tools to act and build collective power to defend Black history, Black students and Black educators. “Empowerment Lab: Storytelling Roundtable Training,” a free, virtual training session to help people craft and tell their stories, will be held Saturday, Oct. 14. Registration is open for the session slated for 1 to 2:30 p.m.  

Since January 2021, 18 states have enacted laws banning or restricting teaching critical race theory or to limit how teachers can discuss racism, sexism, gender identity and other important issues in the classroom, according to Education Week. Another 26 are considering similar bans and policy restrictions. 

In an informal poll, roughly 70% of attendees at COC’s School Board Training said they believe their students’ education has been negatively impacted by banned books, course restrictions and the poor quality of history education specifically.

“The lack of history education is so concerning,” one participant said. “Even before the current wave of attacks on Black history, I wasn’t taught an accurate version of the Civil Rights Movement. No SNCC, CORE, Freedom Summer. Nothing.”

“I want all children in my (school) district to know their history – their real history!” another participant said.

Book bans have impacted 4 million students at more than 5,000 schools, according to the ACLU. About 40% of the banned books included a prominent character of color or an LGBTQ main character. 

Experts say this is an injustice to Black children and Black families because it deprives them of the opportunity to see themselves in books and deprives others to learn about people who are different from themselves.

While media reports are increasing about attempts to ban books in school districts across the nation, the American Library Association estimates that only 3% to 18% of book challenges are reported.

”Here at Color Of Change, we hope to empower Black students and parents to dream, learn and lead through our programs and trainings like our Storytelling Roundtable, which is aimed at providing them with the tools to win, organize and fight back against the attack on education across the country,” said Destanie Newell, a senior regional field manager at COC.

Parents, educators, students and the community can use their voices for change. COC’s first “Empowerment Lab: Storytelling Roundtable Training” will help all interested to share their stories and fight back against groups and big money that are invested in erasure and harm. Details and registration for the free, virtual event on Saturday, Oct. 14, are here. 

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Defend Black History Summit

Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina

Join Color Of Change and The National Education Association in Charlotte, NC for the Defend Black History Summit to collectively build power and protect the quality of education in our schools.