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On Watching My Son Discover His Blackness… (OpEd)

April 26, 2017

Karsonya Wise Whitehead

Originally published in The Baltimore Sun: “The uprising may be over; but the work is not,” April 27, 2017


My son was six years old the first time that he realized that he was black. He was in the first grade, attending a Baltimore City independent school, and one day, during recess, the boys in his class decided to make-up a game called, “Let’s Get the Black Boy.” Given that he was the only black boy in his grade and thus on the playground, he spent the hour running for fear of what they would do if they caught him. The entire ride home he peppered me with questions about what it meant to be black: Was it something that we chose to become, why did he choose to run, and what did I think they would do if they caught him?


It was a long night for me as I spent the evening writing down everything I wanted to say to the principal. I practiced in front of the mirror, and I worked hard to build up my courage so that I would have the words to say and the heart to say them. My father once said that the hardest parent of being a black parent is the moment you realize that in the face of injustice and racism, your silence will be seen as an act of betrayal, a sign of complicity, and you would forever wear it as a badge that marked your moment of weakness.


The truth of my father’s words has stayed with me, and the responsibility that it calls me to have gets more difficult as the world continues to turn. In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois stated that the problem of the 20th century was the color line, which referred to the role of race and racism in history and society. Today, the problem of the 21st century seems to be a false sense of racial, social and economic equality that fosters a culture of complacency — and intolerance for those who attempt to expose the myth.


It has been two years since the Baltimore uprising that followed Freddie Gray’s death in the back of a police van, a pivotal moment in our city that shifted our focus and called us to action on long-standing problems plaguing our city. It was a time of real honesty where we collectively shared our ideas, frustrations, hopes and dreams for a better, more united Baltimore. Since then, life has settled back in to the familiar. The pockets of the city that have historically been economically stable are once again doing very well; the number of tourists coming in to the city has steadily increased, and museums, hotels, restaurants and real estate are all showing signs of growth. And the neighborhoods that suffered before the death of Gray continue to do so.


Crime is still a persistent and deadly problem: 2015 and 2016 were recorded as, per capita, the deadliest and the second deadliest years respectively in the city’s history, and 2017 has already logged 101 homicides as of Tuesday. High unemployment and poverty rates continue. The public school system is not improving, and with an ongoing budget deficit and looming teacher crises, this is not expected to change. The communities that were largely ignored and underserved have remained at the edges of both the city and our minds. We are still at a crisis moment, though it seems the public urgency to act has evaporated.


We must take immediate concrete steps to finally end this long and difficult battle to save our city. Among them:

• Reallocate city budgets so that we are spending more money on our students that we do on our police force;

•Offer more incentives and financial guidance to first-time small business owners to encourage them to open up grocery and convenience stores in their own neighborhoods;

•Redesign the police department’s Civilian Review Board so that it has a higher visibility, a larger working budget and can act as a more effective checks and balance system for internal affairs;

•Establish more job training programs for unemployed and underemployed residents and returning citizens;

•Accept that we must be the ones to police our own neighborhoods, to reach out to our neighbors and to hold them (and ourselves) accountable for what is happening in our communities.


It has been two very long years, and we must finally and completely choose the type of city that we want to live in and take the necessary action for change. We cannot be silent, lest it be seen by future Baltimoreans as our collective act of betrayal, a sign of our complicity that we would forever wear as a badge that marked our moment of weakness.


Karsonya Wise Whitehead is an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.” A version of this editorial was aired as a public commentary on WYPR 88.1, Baltimore’s NPR station. She can reached at or on Twitter @kayewhitehead.



2017 Black Quilted Narratives (BQN) Summer Teachers’ Institute (Application)

March 25, 2017

Black Quilted Narratives

Summer Teachers’ Institute –Application

July 10-21, 2017



Application Deadline: June 2, 2017

The BQN Summer Teachers’ Institute is designed principally for full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools. Prior to completing an application, please review the letter outlining the project and thoughtfully consider what is expected in terms of residence and attendance, reading and writing requirements, and general participation in the Summer Institute and Teach-Ins.

Please note: The BQN curriculum is designed to engage, inspire, and educate the next generation of culturally responsive leaders and political activists using historical moments from the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, this BQN Summer Teachers’ Institute is best suited for educators and school personnel who would have the creative freedom and initiative to incorporate civic, social, and cultural topics into their instruction.


A selection committee, consisting of the Co-Project Directors and the Master Teachers will read and evaluate all properly completed applications in order to select the most promising applicants. We will identify a number of alternates in case those selected are unable to attend. The most important consideration in the selection of participants is the likelihood that an applicant and their school, by extension, will benefit professionally. This will be determined by committee members and is based upon a number of factors, each of which should be addressed in the application essay. These factors include:

  • Effectiveness and commitment as an educator, based upon years of experience and/or prior involvement with professional development activities;
  • Intellectual interests, as they relate to the subject matter of the project;
  • Special skills or perspectives that would contribute to the Summer Teachers’ Institute;
  • Commitment to participate fully in the formal and informal collegial life of the project; and,
  • Racial and economic make-up of the school, with a special interest in (but not limited to) educators who teach in a Title I school; and the likelihood that the experience will enhance both the applicant’s teaching and the students’ present and future school experiences



Application packages should be sent to the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) via email at by June 2, 2017. Late applications will not be reviewed. Twenty-five educators will be selected to participate in the BQN Summer Teachers’ Institute. Successful applicants will be notified of their selection via email by June 9, 2017 and will have until June 16, 2017 to accept or decline the offer.


A completed application package includes the following:

  1. The completed BQN application form (see below);
  2. A résumé or brief biography that details your educational qualifications and professional experience (one-four pages);
  3. An application essay that includes the following (four pages maximum):
  •      Your reasons for applying to the BQN Summer Teachers’ Institute;
  •      Your interest, both academic and personal, in the topics we will be studying;
  •      The relationship between your professional responsibilities and the BQN line of study;
  •      Your relevant academic qualifications and/or experiences that equip you to do the work of the Summer Teachers’ Institute; and,
  •      What you hope to accomplish by participating, including any individual research and writing projects you foresee undertaking and/or curricular units you will create.
  1. The names and contact information for two references, one of which should be an administrator from your school. The two referees should be familiar with your professional accomplishments or promise, teaching and/or research interests, and ability to contribute to, and benefit from, participation in the Summer Institute.


Part 1: General Information

Name: ______________________________________________________

Home Address: ______________________________________________________

Work Address: ______________________________________________________

E-mail: _____________________      Home Phone: _________________

Citizenship: If not U.S., please specify country, month and year U.S. residence began: ________________________________________________________

**This information will be kept private and confidential. This information will be used for payment purposes only.

Please provide your school name and address:



Please provide your principal’s name, phone number and email address:



How long have you been teaching? ________________________________________

What grade(s) and subject(s) do you teach? __________________________________

What courses did you teach this year and number of students taught? _______________

Please provide the name, email address and phone number for two professional references.

  1. ________________________________________________________
  2. ________________________________________________________

How did you learn about the NVLP BQN Summer Teachers’ Institute?


Part 2: Teaching Information
How would you classify your school? (Circle all that apply)

Public School

Independent Religiously Affiliated Home School

Charter School      Elementary (K-5)        Middle School (6-8)        High School (9-12)

School Position (circle all that apply)

Full-Time Teacher     Part-Time Teacher     Classroom Professional      Administrator 

Services (e.g. Librarian) Other ________________________________________________________

Any questions regarding this application, please email Dr. Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead at

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT: NVLP does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status.

2017 Black Quilted Narratives (BQN) Summer Teachers’ Institute (LETTER)

March 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

We hope you are as excited as we are about the upcoming 2017 Black Quilted Narratives (BQN) Summer Teachers’ Institute. We are thrilled to announce that the Institute will be held in Baltimore City’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum for Maryland African American History & Culture from July 10-21, 2017. Download the Application Here!

Application D/L: June 19, 2017


About the Black Quilted Narratives Program

Created by NVLP, BQN is a curriculum support package for elementary, middle and high school teachers that uses videotaped oral history interviews with visionaries from the Civil Rights Movement to guide students in discussions about social injustice, racial healing, and political activism. During the Summer Teacher’s Institute, teachers will learn the tenets of Culturally Proficient Instruction (CPI), while exploring one of America’s greatest evolving stories ever told—the Civil Rights Movement. The goals of the institute are: To create a space for 5th-12th grade teachers to deeply engage with the NVLP interviews; to learn and integrate new scholarly perspectives on teaching and learning; to examine the effectiveness of using primary source video material in the classroom; and to learn best practices for becoming a culturally proficient teacher. The institute is the second phase of a multi-year innovative teacher- training program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).

About the BQN Institute

During the two-week Institute, teachers will have an opportunity to:

  1. Train as a culturally responsive teacher—which includes watching and discussing visionary webisodes; examining primary and secondary source material with historians; and, participating in daily small break-out pedagogical sessions with support provided by BQN Master Teachers;
  1. Participate in racial equity training—which includes reflection activities, working and planning in small groups, and working with a Racial Equity trainer; and,
  2. Develop materials to plan and present a Professional Development Workshop.

Topics covered during the institute include the history of the Civil Rights Movement; women of the Civil Rights Movement, Racial Healing and Social Justice, and, Culturally/Politically Responsive Pedagogy (with an overview, hands-on demonstration, and tips for implementing this into your classroom).

Teacher Benefits

Classroom Resources: lesson plans, a primary source package, and access to BQN webisodes.

Stipends: selected teachers will receive a taxable stipend of $1,200. Participants are required to attend all course meetings and engage fully in the work of the project. During the two-week institute, participants may not undertake teaching assignments or any other professional activities unrelated to their participation in the project. Teachers who complete the institute will receive their stipend.

Continuing Education Credit: Teachers who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and have an opportunity to apply for continuing education credits, which they may present to their home school districts.

Our Team

Cheryl S. Clarke (Co-Project Director), a former foundation director and teacher, is the Chief Executive Officer for the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) since 2008. She directed the Foundation Giving program, created the Diversity program, and worked in Human Resources at Freddie Mac for 25 years. Prior to joining Freddie Mac, Clarke taught special education for seven years in the D.C. Public School system working with emotionally and behaviorally challenged boys.

Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., (Co-Project Director) is the Curriculum Lead and Associate Professor of Communication and African American Studies at Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Whitehead is an award-winning former middle school Social Studies teacher (2006-07 Maryland History Teacher of the Year), a curriculum writer, and a Master Teacher.

Lawrence Brown, Ph.D., (Historian), is assistant professor in the Morgan State School of Community Health and Policy. His scholarly work focuses on the intersection of masculinity, racism, and health, the impact of residential displacement and financial disinvestment on community health, and understanding ethics and economic development in the domain of global health.

Brittany Horne (Master Teacher) is an elementary school teacher at Roland Park Elementary Middle School who previously piloted the BQN Teacher Institute.

Tracy Kent-Gload (Master Teacher) is an elementary school teacher at Ridgeway Elementary School who previously piloted the BQN Teacher Institute.

Nadiera Young (Master Teacher) is a middle school Language Arts teacher at Roland Park Elementary Middle School who previously piloted the BQN Teacher Institute

The documents are also available for download at All applicants must complete the BQN application form and provide the information requested to be considered eligible. Please send application packages to the National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) via email at If you have any questions about the Institute or application process, please do not hesitate to contact the Curriculum Lead, Dr. Whitehead, at

We encourage you to apply for this innovative Summer Teachers’ Institute focusing on the Civil Rights Movement and the men and women whose leadership during this time forever changed our nation. As you share the stories of these civil rights leaders with your students, and they share their stories of lessons learned from the material, you will help your students see the world in brand new ways and, perhaps, see themselves as being part of the greater American story—the great American quilt.


Cheryl S. Clarke, Project Co-Director and CEO, National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP)


Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., Project Co-Director and Associate Professor of Communication and African American Studies, Loyola University Maryland

American women are on the forefront of a movement for change (Op-Ed)

March 10, 2017

Originally published in The Baltimore Sun March 9, 2017

There is a movement for change that is happening in this country, and women are at the forefront of it. It is an incredible time to be a woman and, by extension, to be a girl. It is also exhausting, and it is hard work. It is a time of high hopes and great expectations.

We are standing tall giving ourselves permission to jump at the sun and say out loud that we are brilliant, resilient and we are here, fully present and accountable to this moment in history. We are protesting, organizing and making our voices heard throughout this world. The last two social movements in this country were founded and organized by women: Black Lives Matter was founded by three black women, and both the 2017 Women’s March (the largest United States protest in history) and Wednesday’s “A Day Without a Woman” protest were organized by women. We are using our pens, our voices, our art and our wallets to confront and dismantle racism and sexism and poverty and despair and violence.

Though the momentum for change is new, the work we are doing is not. Women have been our own champions for decades, since before Abigail Adams, the wife and adviser to President John Adams, urged the Founding Fathers to remember the ladies (obviously they ignored her). Women’s history and women making history is American history and a vital part of the American story. The contributions and sacrifices of women are part of the mortar that holds and binds our nation together.

We are now in the midst of celebrating Women’s History Month, a time when we highlight and celebrate the contributions of all women to events in history and contemporary society. We remember the women who worked to end American slavery; who challenged William Blackstone’s 1765 document, “The Rights of Persons”; and who pressured Congress to pass and ratify the 19th Amendment finally granting women the right to vote in 1920. We remember the contributions of women who acted individually and collectively to advocate for equal pay, for equal say and for our safety. Women who showed us every day that we have to fight, sometimes in the face of anger and humiliation, to be heard. Women who remind us, as Angela Davis once said, that we have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world.

The first Women’s History Week was celebrated in 1978 in Sonoma, Calif., and begin to spread across the country. Two years later, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The proclamation states in part that, “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” By 1987, Congress issued a resolution designating March as Women’s History Month. Today, it is celebrated all over the world and corresponds with International Women’s Day (March 8).

At the same time, there is still so much work to be done. Even though women are 51 percent of the population and currently make up 57 percent of the students in colleges or universities, we are still fighting for basic rights:

• Women are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men for full-time year round work, and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger;

• Only 20 percent of Congress, 27 percent of U.S. college presidents, and 33 percent of U.S. state and federal judges are female;

• And each year, more than 300,000 women are raped, 2 million are battered, and more than 1,000 women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

This must change, and this is how we do it: We recognize that men still run the world and work to change and confront that truth; we focus on closing the gender gap and breaking all glass ceilings; and we raise our daughters and our sons as feminists, help them to find their voices, and send them forward to change the world.

Karsonya Wise Whitehead (; Twitter: @kayewhitehead) is an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and the creator of #ADayWithoutAWoman K16 Syllabus. A version of this editorial was aired as a public commentary on WYPR 88.1, Baltimore’s NPR station.

Women’s Empowerment (Learning How to Lift as We Climb)

March 8, 2017

Nichole Aguirre and Nekia Becerra

(edited by Alicia L. Moore, Ph.D)

Objective: In recognition of International Women’s Day, students will understand the contributions and impact that women make to and on our society.[1]

Grade Levels

  • Pre-K – 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade – 5th Grade

Essential Questions

  • Why do women matter?
  • Why do women’s rights matter?
  • What will you do to change your community?


  1. Empowerment: to permit; enable
  2. Women’s rights: economic, legal, and social rights equal to those accorded to men, claimed by and for women
  3. Resilience: the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from difficulty, sickness, and/or other difficulties
  4. Equality: the condition, fact, or quality of being equal
  5. Discrimination: unjust or unfair treatment of people based upon their differences or distinguishing characteristics (e.g., race, age, ethnicity, appearance, gender, disability, etc.).
  6. Protest: an objection, disagreement or complaint
  7. Shero: A female hero; A woman who support girls, women and causes that benefit all people (Adapted from

The vocabulary words were defined in children’s terms using the Kids Wordsmyth website.

Lesson Plan (Grades PK-2nd)


  • Talking piece (A small stuffed animal appropriate for PK – 2nd)
  • Book or Video: Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple
    Youtube URL
  • Frida by Jonah Winter
  • A square sheet of cardstock for each student
  • Markers or crayons
  • Yarn or string

Lesson Plan

  1. Gather students in a circle and explain circle expectations (tell them that eyes are watching, ears are listening, bodies are calm, and voices are quiet):
    1. Explain to them that when they have their “Talking Piece” (stuffed animal) in their hand, they can speak. If they do not have it in their hand, then they are listening.
    2. Practice speaking and passing the “Talking Piece” around the circle.
  2. Lecture Blast: Tell them that in our country, women have not always had the same rights, the choice to do whatever they like, as men in our country have had. At one point, women had to fight for the same rights. They organized and protested. (Protests are a way to show you disagree with something and/or the way that someone or some people are being treated.) Women did not like that they were not able to do the same thing that men/boys were allowed to do, simply because they are females.
  3. Have them turn to the student sitting next to them and discuss: How does it make you feel when you hear that women and girls weren’t allowed to do the same things as men or boys, simply because they are girls? Have a few students share out their response(s).
  4. Student Work: either read Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple’s Not All Princesses Dress In Pink to them or watch the story here. (If this book does not work for your students, substitute another empowering book for young girls.)
  5. Class Discussion:
    1. What did you learn from this story?
    2. What do you remember the most about the story?
    3. What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
    4. Would you like if someone made you wear a color you didn’t like? Would you like it if you could not play on the playground because you are in elementary school?
    5. How does it make you feel when someone makes you do something you don’t like or when they take away your right to choose?
  6. Explain the importance of (1) fighting for what is right (tell them that sometimes, in order for changes to happen, you have to protest) and (2) working together as one to help make change happen.


  1. Give each child a square sheet of paper and tell them draw or write about how they will change the world based on any injustice that they choose. If need be, take some time to make sure that they understand what an injustice is and how they can be changed. (Depending upon your classroom, remind them that boys and girls are equal and can do whatever they want to do.)
  2. Closure: Allow students to share what they will do or how they will help.
  3. Tie each square together in the corners to create a unity quilt and display it in a place where others outside your classroom can see how your students will change the world.

Extension Activity

  1. Silhouette Wall: Have students stand in front of the projector and trace their side profile on black paper. For younger students, teachers should trace their profiles. Cut out the profiles and glue it onto a white poster board.
    1. Have each student write a statement about how they will contribute to our society in a powerful and meaningful way.
    2. Hang the silhouettes and the statements in the hallway outside of the classroom.
    3. Invite parents to see how the class is working together to make positive changes in the communities, and ultimately, our society.

Lesson Plan (Grades 3rd-5th)

Things To Do Before The Lesson

  1. Move the chairs in your classroom into a circle to level the power dynamics, create an inclusive environment, and symbolize a safe place for the community of learners.
  2. Reflect on the women in your life (sheroes) who made an impact. (As the teacher, prepare to share in the instance that the group discussion needs an example or structure.)
  3. Have Always: #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable


  • Computer w/ Projector
  • Pencils
  • Sticky Notes
  • Chart Paper – Optional for sorting Sticky Notes
  • White Board
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Card Stock
  • iPads (Optional)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Sticky Notes
  • Crayons
  • Markers

Lesson Plan

  1. Establish Norms (You may use your classroom rules/expectations in place of this.)
    1. The students should develop a list of norms to follow during the circle.
    2. Students should develop and agree upon group norms.
    3. Remind students of the norms throughout the circle discussion.
  2. Pose this question to the group: How do women contribute to our society?
    1. Allow students time to think of ways that women contribute to society.
    2. Have the students record each response on a sticky note.
    3. Students should post their notes on the board.
    4. When all of the students have finished, have them work together to sort the sticky notes into themes.
    5. Discuss vocabulary words during this debrief time: Empowerment, Women’s rights, Resilience, Equality, Discrimination, Protest, Shero
  3. Debrief Sticky Note Activity: Discuss the common themes and probe further.
    1. Which contributions appeared the most and why?
    2. What would things be like if women didn’t make these contributions?
    3. Did anyone write about the contributions of women in their personal life (people they know personally)?
    4. How would your life be different without the women who have contributed/impacted your life?
  4. Show Always: #LikeAGirl – Unstoppable
    1. Have a broad and open discussion about the video.
  5. A Call to Action: Have the girls think of ways they can contribute to our society. Frame it so that they think of things that would require them to participate in designing/creating. Ask the boys to be supportive and contribute to this discussion in impactful ways.
    1. The students can think about how they can change their communities for the better.
    2. The boys can learn about being allies (supporter; united for a common cause).
  6. Assessment: Students can do any of the following to demonstrate their learning:
    1. Write a poem.
    2. Write a blog post.
    3. Write a letter to share what they plan to do.
    4. Record a voice memo.
    5. Create a short video using iMovie on an iPad.

Extension Activities:

  1. Allow students to complete an independent study on women who fight or fought for equality. Make sure to provide an expanded list of diverse women (in terms of race, ability, ethnicity, careers, talents, etc.).
    1. For example: Malala Yousafazi, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Juliette Hampton Morgan, to name just a few
    2. Students can share their learning via a Gallery Walk with the campus and community members.
  2. Form a book study group and read Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl’s Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future!
  3. Silhouette Wall: Have students stand in front of the projector and trace their side profile on black paper. Cut out the profile and glue it onto a white poster board.
    1. Have each student write a statement about how they will contribute to our society in a meaningful way.
    2. Hang the silhouettes and statements on a wall outside of the classroom and have a mini-museum day.

Culminating Activity for All Grade Levels:

  1. Summarize ways in which girls and women have been discriminated against.
  2. Margaret Mead once said, “It is said that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens cannot change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” What does that mean and how can we use it in our classroom to change our school? The community? The world? Who should fight for/support women and girls in our society? (Answer: Everyone.) Discuss/Review men and boys and their roles as allies for women’s rights.

[1] For more information, see International Women’s Day

A Day Without A Woman K16 Syllabus & Resources

March 8, 2017

created & compiled by Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

with Alicia Moore, Ph.D.

The world goes dark without the voices and experiences, contributions and sacrifices, laughter and love of womyn.  –Karsonya Wise Whitehead, 2017

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and we stand in solidarity with the “A Day Without a Woman” protest, we remember the countless teachers and mothers, educators and caregivers, day workers and hourly wage earners, who are unable to take a day off of work…as there are some jobs (like motherhood) that have no start and end time to its workday. We stand with you and challenge you to take these collective spaces and turn them into spaces of equality and justice, of liberation and freedom, or conversation and activism. We have compiled a list of resources (pulled from the #TrumpSyllabusK12 and #ClintonSyllabus; and submitted by teachers across the country) that focus on and highlight the contributions, lives, and experiences of women and people of color. We encourage you to go forward and teach with love and joy and in a spirit of resistance! We also ask you to forward us your “A Day Without A Woman” lesson plans or activities to add to our list. Let’s see revolution as a thunderstorm and join hands, run out into the room, and get free together.

*We will continue to add resources, so please send your lesson plans and activities to!

–In solidarity and sistahood! Amandla (Umfazi)! (power to the woman)

Lesson Plans & Resources

  1. Nevertheless They Persisted: Black Women & The Fire Within Them (MS/HS)

    -Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

  2. Women’s Empowerment (Learning How to Lift as We Climb) (PK-2nd, 3rd-5th)

    -Nichole Aguirre and Nekia Becerra (edited by Alicia L. Moore, Ph.D)

  3. Writing White Privilege, Race, and Citizenship: Reading Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, Claudia Rankine, and Walt Whitman (HS)

    -Ileana Jiménez

  4. Giving Voice & Making Space: Dismantling the Education Industrial Complex in an Effort to Free Our Black Girls (MS/HS)

    -Aja Reynolds & Stephanie Hicks

Opinion Editorials & Poetry

  1. Making Our Voices Heard (OpEd)

    -Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

  2. Nevertheless They Persisted: Black Women & The Fire Within Them (Essay)

    -Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

  3. America is a Divided Nation: Singing the Post-Trump Blues (OpEd)

    -Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

  4. Oya for President (to be read OutLoud) (Poem)

    -Alexis Pauline Gumbs

  5. Mourning in America: A Black Woman’s Blues Song (Poem)

    -Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.


I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change.
I am changing the things I cannot accept.
~ Angela Davis

I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people of America. ~ Shirley Chisholm


Liz Adetiba, July 1, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s Complex Embodiment of Shirley Chisholm’s Legacy, Inc.

Rebecca Bohanan, July 25, 2016. 12 Women Ran for President Before Hillary, Huffington Post.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, June, 2014.  The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic. 

Michele Gorman, August 5, 2016. Female U.S Presidential Contenders Before Hillary Clinton 2016, Newsweek.

Steven Hill, March 7, 2014. Why Does the US Still Have So Few Women in Power?, The Nation.

Ejaz Khan. Ten Most Famous Women Political Leaders, Wonderlist.

Jill Lepore, June 27, 2016. The Woman Card: How feminism and antifeminism created Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, The New Yorker.

Garance Franke-Ruta, April 8, 2013. How the ‘System of Beauty’ Hurts Female Politicians, The Atlantic.

Julia Manchester, June 10, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s female forerunners, CNN Politics.

Lois Romano, July 24, 2016. Before Clinton, these women blazed the long, frustrating trail, The Washington Post.

Lily Rothman, April 27, 2016. How A Major US Party First Nominated a Woman for Vice President, Time.

Rebecca Traister, February 22, 2016. The Single American Woman, New York Magazine.

Bernard Weinraub, July 12, 2984. Geraldine Ferraro is Chosen by Mondale as Running Mate, First Women on Major Ticket, The New York Times.


Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (Houghton Mifflin, 1970).

Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for Presidency (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Lori D. Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-century United States (Yale University Press, 1990).

Torben Iversen and Frances Rosenbluth, Women, Work, and Politics: The Political Economy of Gender Inequality (Yale University Press, 2011).

Women, Culture and Society: A Reader, edited by Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford University Press, 1974).


MAKERS: Women in Politics, Directed by Grace Lee, (Verizon, 2015)


Global Fund for Women: Champions for Equality. Women’s Human Rights.

MSNBC, June 6, 2016. Before Hillary: Female Political Trailblazers.

PeaceCorps. Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

The Hillary Clinton Campaign. Women’s Rights and Opportunity.

The National Democratic Institute. Gender, Women, and Democracy.

The White House: Office of Press Secretary. Fact Sheet: Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

UN Women. Facts and Figures: Leadership and Political Participation.



 When they go low, we go high. ~ Michelle Obama


Amy Chozick and Ashley Parker, April 28, 2016. Donald Trump’s Gender-Based Attacks on Hillary Clinton have Calculated Risk, The New York Times.

Kelly Wilz, February 4, 2016. A Feminist’s Guide to Critiquing Hillary Clinton, Academe Blog.

Michelle Cottle, August 17, 2016. The Era of ‘The Bitch’ Is Coming, The Atlantic.

Rebekah Tromble and Dirk Hovy, February 24, 2016. These 6 Charts Show How Much Sexism Hillary Clinton Faces On Twitter, The Washington Post.


Carl Berstein, A Woman in Charge (Knopf Borzoi Books, 2007).

Deborah Ohrn, Herstory: Women Who Changed the World (Viking Juvenile, 1995).

Gloria Steinem, Moving Beyond Words: Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender (Open Road Media, 1995).


Miss Representation. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, (Girls’ Club Entertainment, 2011).


Amanda Marcotte, October 20, 2016. Hillary Clinton is an actual Feminist: She Met Trump’s Misogyny Head On, Without Apology, Salon.

Andrew O’Hehir, February 13, 2016. Hillary, Bernie, Women and Men: Hey, Guys – Gender Politics Are Central to This Race, Not a Footnote, Salon.

Charlotte Alter, June 6, 2016. Sexist Hillary Clinton Attacks Are Best Sellers, Time.


As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out say far more about ourselves than it does about them. ~ Michelle Alexander


Rachel Herzing. What is the Prison Industrial Complex?, Political Research Associates, n.d.

Angela Davis. Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex, History is a Weapon, n.d.

Vicky Pelaez, August 28, 2016. The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery, Global Research.

Aviva Shen, March 6, 2016. Hillary Clinton Says She Agrees Her Role in Mass Incarceration was a Mistake, ThinkProgress.

Eric Schlosser, December, 1998. The Prison-Industrial Complex, The Atlantic.


Cracking The Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, Directed by Shakti Butler, (World Trust, 2013).

Opinion Editorial

BBC News, July 16, 2015. Bill Clinton Regrets ‘Three Strikes’ Bill.


Will Cabaniss, August 25, 2015. Black Lives Matter Activist Says ‘the Clintons’ Passed Policy That Led to Mass Incarceration, Politifact.

Meghan Keneally, April 11, 2016. What’s Inside the Controversial 1994 Crime Bill That’s Plaguing Hillary Clinton on the Campaign Trail, ABC News Network.


One ever feels his twoness – an American a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. ~ W. E. B. Du Bois


Yamiche Alcindor, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Coalition Makes Demand as Campaign Heats Up, The New York Times.

Michael Eric Dyson, November 29, 2015. A Skeptic’s Journey: Why Hillary Clinton will do more for black people than Obama, The New Republic .

JD Heyes, September 9, 2016. Total Stupidity: Black Lives Matter Clams that Climate Change is Racist, Newstarget.

S.A. Miller, September 27, 2016. Black Lives Matter Agrees with Clinton’s ‘implicit Racism’ Message but Doesn’t Trust Her, The Washington Times.

Bre Payton, August 4, 2016. Black Lives Matter Founder: ‘Clintons Use Black People For Votes, The Federalist.

Alex Pfeiffer, October 15, 2016. Leaked Transcript Shows Hillary And Black Lives Matter Activists Clashed In Private Meeting, The Daily Caller.


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Haymarket, 2016).

Opinion Editorials

Glenn Beck, September 7, 2016. Empathy for Black Lives Matter,” The New York Times.

Erin Aubry Kaplan, August 7, 2016, In the Black Lives Matter Era, We Need Justice Well Beyond the Legal Sense, Los Angeles Times.

Karsonya Wise Whitehead, February 22, 2013. Can #BlackLivesMatter last?, The Baltimore Sun.


Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, Directed by Shola Lynch, (Lionsgate, 2012).

Video Clips

Journeyman Pictures, April 12, 2016. #BlackLivesMatter – A New Generation of Civil Rights Activists is Emerging From the Violence of the USA.

RBC Network, July 26, 2016. Mothers of the Movement – Black Lives Matter Speech at the Democratic National Convention. 


Reuters Adam Bettcher, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Group Releases Agenda Ahead of Presidential Election, CBS News.

Yamich Alcindor, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Coalition Makes Demands as Campaign Heats Up, The New York Times.

Nia-Malika Henderson, August 19, 2015. How Black Lives Matter Activists are Influencing 2016 Race, CNN Politics.

40 Acres, A Mule, & $50 Dollars: Making the Case for Reparations (a Baltimore Sun OpEd)

February 17, 2017

Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Conra Gist*

Conversations about reparations are not about money but about people and about the way that people are seen and valued in our society. These are difficult conversations, and we have found that what is most challenging about the idea of reparations today is the notion that America still owes a debt to black people.

We have spent the past couple of years wrestling with the question about whether reparations—as Ta-Nehisi Coates so eloquently argued in his article, The Case for Reparations—could ameliorate inequality for black people in America. We believe that the answer to this question is connected to how well one can understand the structures, practices and norms that created the intentional and unintentional persistent pattern of inequality.

Because racism was institutionalized in the fabric of American society, it must be fought on multiple fronts—education, housing, employment, health, the criminal system and the criminalization of the black male body—and at various levels through community organizing, legislation, political representation, resource allocation and judicial advocacy. Reparations granted at the individual level would have little to no impact on the removal of institutional and structural barriers to make our society more just and free for black people. Reparations also cannot mandate changes in the norms of society that privilege certain groups in professional and recreational communities, or enforce a change in the biases and prejudicial views of others. They also cannot erase the double consciousness many black people juggle in a society that has yet to realize the provision of equal access to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all.

At the same time, we argue that the conversation about reparations—no matter how emotional or difficult or pointless it may seem—must begin with an understanding of what happened in a private meeting on Jan. 12, 1865 in Savannah, Ga. On that day, General William Tecumseh Sherman and Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, met with 20 black ministers and asked them a rather interesting question: When the war ended, what did they think that black people wanted?

These ministers (half of which had been born free) were considered to be the leaders of the black community. Their spokesman was Garrison Frazier who argued that black people needed land and they needed to live separate from whites, who were prejudiced against black people. The vote was almost unanimous, with only one nay from a man named James Lynch, who had been born free in Baltimore. Four days after this meeting, Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15, which called for the redistribution of approximately 400,000 acres of land to newly freed black families in 40-acre lots (hence the later phrase, 40 acres and a mule). Although the order was later overturned by President Andrew Johnson, the act itself represented a significant moment because the American government made a promise of restitution to black people—a promise that has not yet been realized.

Since then, this pattern of exclusion and inequality has persisted through 90 years of Jim Crow and 60 years of the separate but equal period that involved the intentional and strategic exclusion of blacks from federal housing programs, public institutions and opportunities for professional advancement. And while the progress of black people today in comparison with 1865 is undeniable, it is also equally irrefutable that inequitable quality of life indicators for blacks disproportionately persist in 2015.

It is only by facing the historical legacy of unmerited and unchecked power, privilege and opportunity granted to some groups and systematically denied to many others that we can begin to understand why inequality still persists. At the same time, we recognize that a resolute focus on reparations has the potential to mask the complex manifestations of inequality, and silence other strategies and approaches for ensuring that black people can—without inequitable restriction—actualize their dreams with basic human dignity. This is the potential danger of reparations. The sense that once the merited payment is made, discussion of racial inequality in America can effectively end.

By facing these uncomfortable and horrendous historical realities, it challenges us as citizens to not dismiss the presence of inequality in society, or simply dismiss persistent inequality as a result of the behaviors of a group of people. Rather, as is the case in the recent #BlackLivesMatter contingency, public consciousness raising around reparations has the potential to cultivate civic engagement, discussion and action at many levels and fronts of American life. The reparations discourse is demonstrative of the reality that as citizens we must continue to take up the unfinished work of justice and not be complicit or comfortable with a society that has yet to realize access to equal quality of life for all.


Op-Ed originally published under the title: “The U.S. has yet to make good on its promise of reparations to black Americans” in The Baltimore Sun on February 27, 2015.

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