Black Lives Matter at School: A lesson in ‘Teaching for Black Lives’

Amid Seattle’s snowy start to February, a start to Black History Month was not lost. The Black Lives Matter at School movement, fostered by Garfield High School teacher and education activist Jesse Hagopian, grew into a national effort along with local events and rallies.

Last fall as the school year began, CHS spoke with Hagopian about Black Lives Matter at School and Teaching for Black Lives, a book for educators and students with lessons meant to challenge and upend systemic racism in the classroom. Here is what we learned.

A lesson in ‘Teaching for Black Lives’ from Garfield High
By Carolyn Bick for CHS

In the one high school honors class Jesse Hagopian was in, his mostly white peers laughed at him when he stumbled over some words as he read aloud to the rest of the class.

“Being one of the only students of color in the classroom, that pretty much shut down my attention or will to participate in that class,” Hagopian recalled. “School was a challenge to me. I never thought I’d ever be a teacher. I wanted to get away from school.” Continue reading

A lesson in ‘Teaching for Black Lives’ from Garfield High

By Carolyn Bick

In the one high school honors class Jesse Hagopian was in, his mostly white peers laughed at him when he stumbled over some words as he read aloud to the rest of the class.

“Being one of the only students of color in the classroom, that pretty much shut down my attention or will to participate in that class,” Hagopian recalled. “School was a challenge to me. I never thought I’d ever be a teacher. I wanted to get away from school.”

Growing up, the Garfield High School ethnic studies teacher had very few teachers of color in his school career, and did not see any Black people reflected in his curriculum, until college. It was a “very alienating experience,” he said. It didn’t leave him any room to discuss or explore his identity as a Black and mixed race person, or help him appreciate the contributions Black people have made to society. Continue reading

Why the Seattle Peoples Party held a King County Prosecutor candidates forum without any King County Prosecutor candidates

The Seattle Peoples Party said thousands tuned in for the live stream of the event Sunday night but it was a small crowd that came to see if the incumbent King County Prosecutor would show up for the group’s election forum.

Back when it was first planned, a forum on the Peoples Party home turf pitting challenger Daron Morris vs. Dan Satterberg would have made for a major challenge for the incumbent. But the reform-focused public defender Morris bowed out of the race in September citing medical reasons leaving Satterberg unopposed.

Sunday’s anticipated clash was not to be. Campaign spokesperson Kenneth Fockele told organizers and CHS that Satterberg would not be attending the Sunday night event at Langston Hughes: Continue reading

Macklemore, Michael Bennett team up with Garfield educator to put Teaching for Black Lives book in every school in Seattle

Hagopian, Bennett, and Macklemore (Image courtesy Rethinking Schools)

An all-star team including Macklemore and Garfield High educator and activist Jesse Hagopian has come together to make sure copies of Teaching for Black Lives — “a handbook for creating the sweeping reform of our education system and equitable teaching strategies for Black students”– are in every middle and high school in the Seattle Public School system. Continue reading

CHS Pics | MLK 2018 the start of a week of activism on Capitol Hill

Thousands of people took to the streets Monday from 23rd and Jefferson’s Garfield High School, to the East Precinct at the corner of 12th and Pine on Capitol Hill, and on down Pine to Westlake as part of a day of rallies, seminars, and marching to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bolstered by amazing January weather, the crowds filled multiple city blocks with groups representing indigenous communities, Black Lives Matter, and area labor organizations. Helicopters from local television stations — and the King County Sheriff — spun through the blue sky. At 12th and Pine, the march came to a stop as the marchers took a knee, echoing the ongoing pre-game protests in the NFL. Continue reading

Nikkita Oliver’s run for mayor: housing, education, and ending the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’

It's official. Nikkita Oliver turned in her paperwork Monday to enter the race to be Seattle's mayor

It’s official. Nikkita Oliver turned in her paperwork Monday to enter the race to be Seattle’s mayor

The newly formed Peoples Party of Seattle is putting all-in-one educator, attorney, spoken-word poet, and activist Nikkita Oliver forward as its candidate to take on Mayor Ed Murray for this year’s election.

Oliver’s decision to run and help launch the “community-centered grassroots political party” came after the election of President Donald Trump.

“I didn’t want to stand in a place of powerlessness,” Oliver said.

After the election, she started meeting people for coffee, talking about values and concerns. Oliver talked with the “aunties and elders” in her community about how people running on the same platforms yield the same results and maybe it’s time to try something different.

Over time, those conversations lead to the collective decision that “we need to transform our local government.”

The party formed and encouraged Oliver to run against Murray.

“I take what my community says to me to heart,” Oliver told CHS. “… I’m not going to act like I entered into this with ease. I take it very seriously.” Continue reading

Protest march covers Black Lives Matter hot spots from Capitol Hill to youth jail to Midtown Center


Around 2,000 people gathered Saturday night at Seattle Central for a Black Lives Matter protest that ended up covering a lot of mileage — and a lot of issues — with stops at a multitude of sites around Capitol Hill and the Central District including the East Precinct, the county’s youth jail facility, a troubled property on the backside of 23rd Ave’s Midtown Center, and, yes, Uncle Ike’s.

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 3.38.43 PMAfter a stop at the locked-down East Precinct at 12th and Pine, the huge three-block crowd of marchers made its way down 12th toward the King County Youth Services Center — also known as juvenile hall. Last week, activists learned that the the Hearing Examiner had dismissed an appeal blocking construction of a new youth jail and justice center at the site. In a decision issued last week, the examiner dismissed the appeal brought by Ending the Prison Industrial Complex’s asking for exceptions made in permits issued by the city to be overturned. Continue reading

Seattle’s State of the City 2017: $55M homelessness levy, soda tax for schools, Trump immigration push-back

At Northgate’s Idris Mosque Tuesday morning, Mayor Ed Murray gave his 2017 State of the City address, announcing plans to increase investments to further address homelessness and education disparities, and to continue to support immigrants and refugees in Seattle. Included in the speech were plans to activate a city emergency system usually reserved for bad weather and protests to provide more resources for helping the area’s homeless, a proposal for a $55 million property levy to fund homelessness services, and the floating of a possible Seattle soda tax to help fund schools. Video and the full text of Murray’s speech is below.

For Seattle, the biggest news of the speech will likely be the homeless levy proposal. The plan will go to city voters this August to ask them to approve an increase in the commercial and residential property tax of around $13 per month for the median household, according to the mayor’s office. Murray said that a coalition including entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Downtown Emergency Services Center executive director Daniel Malone, and City Council members Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw will lead an advisory group to create the funding package for the proposal.

The mayor also announced a new offensive to push back on Trump administration immigration policies. Murray said the city will send Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, in response to President Donald Trump’s actions affecting immigrants and refugees. Murray is seeking to determine potential enforcement actions the federal government may take against Seattle and other sanctuary cities and details about changes to travel and immigration policy.

“We believe that the rule of law is on our side,” Murray said, adding that Seattle will take legal action if the federal departments do not provide timely responses.

Murray’s State of the City announcements:

Murray said he also plans to meet with other regional mayors to about remaining safe sanctuary cities.

“Remaining open to all is a fundamental value of the city,” Murray said. “Seattle is a great city because of immigrants and refugees.” Continue reading

Day of #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool brings lessons on racism and Central District rallies

The scene at Garfield High School during a noontime rally Wednesday (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

The scene at Garfield High School during a noontime rally Wednesday (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Hundreds of Seattle Public School teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and incorporate lessons on racism into their classes Wednesday as part of an event organizers say is unprecedented in the racial equality movement.

More than 2,000 Black Lives Matter t-shirts were ordered in the district to participate in what Garfield High history teacher Jesse Hagopian called a “consciousness-raising” event.

“Racial equity will never be a reality unless people are willing to talk about it. This event provides an opportunity for conversations that can help our school move toward racial justice,” Hagopian wrote on his website.

The day of #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool will include a rally at Garfield’s 23rd Ave campus and culminate with an event at 14th and Fir’s Washington Hall with Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett and a performance by Kimya Dawson and others. Other schools in the region, including some elementary schools some outside the state, were participating and posting pictures of teachers wearing Black Lives Matter shirts on social media. Continue reading

Why aren’t there more Black Lives Matter signs on Capitol Hill?

(Image: Tatiana Gill via Flickr)

(Image: Tatiana Gill via Flickr)

“I’m with Her” signs are popping up around the neighborhood as Election Day approaches. But another cause could use more support. A Capitol Hill neighbor writes to ask why there aren’t more visible signs of support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the yards and windows of Capitol Hill. Here is the note CHS received from T. Sheldon over the weekend:

Today I was driving around Columbia City and was floored by how many BLM supporting signs that were displayed. I was not the only one who noticed, my kiddo who is nine said excitedly, Look! Look at all the signs they have here. It seems like a small thing, to stick a sign in your window or stuck into your lawn but that visual support has a huge impact on the self worth and value of marginalized people. My family is biracial and we definitely appreciate every sign we see!!!

Coming home to 15th Ave it was clear our neighborhood is a bit behind. We have a sign in our window, I’ve seen one other one on 14th and that’s it. I believe that families and individuals here do support BLM and maybe just don’t know where or how to get the signs or shirts…so here are a few links and if you have amazon prime you could be showing your support by Wednesday when Seattle schools will be having showing support by having staff and kids wear BLM tee-shirts and hosting conversations about social justice and racial equality.

Yard Sign
https://peacesupplies.org/products/black_lives_matter_yard_sign/

Window Sign
http://www.allposters.com/-st/BlackLivesMatter-Posters_c263728_.htm

If not a poster, maybe a shirt? There will be a large show of support Wednesday as the #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool effort rallies educators across Seattle:

In the first action of its kind in the country, hundreds of teachers, counselor, instructional assistants, office staff, and other educators, will wear “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school on Wednesday, October 19th. At the time of this release, already over 700 shirts have been ordered by educators in Seattle.