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Counter Censorship Efforts by Uplifting BLM at School

The annual National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action for 2023 is February 6-10. The guiding principles behind this event can be an important frame through which to reimagine more liberatory educational spaces for Black children and—as these LFJ resources indicate—for all children. This Black History Month, be intentional in countering censorship efforts.

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Create Social and Emotional Safety Through Solidarity

In the latest LFJ article, school counseling professor Riley Drake, Ph.D., outlines a model of social and emotional learning and explains “‘feeling safe’ is contextual,” especially for Black and Brown children whose needs are often overlooked in our nation’s classrooms. Relying on community partnerships, promoting mutual aid to foster solidarity and advancing restorative justice are strategies educators and other adults can employ to increase children’s feelings of safety and well-being. These LFJ resources offer more detail.

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Riley Drake, Ph.D.

Riley Drake is an assistant professor of school counseling in the Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation, and Human Services at the University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Education. Riley’s vision for educational justice is grounded in education as the practice of freedom, and her research, including her dissertation, The Purpose Is Process: Exploring Humanizing Social Emotional Praxes in Elementary Education, explores how educators honor and struggle for liberation alongside young people, families and community organizers. Specifically, she is interested in the praxes of elementary school
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History Can Guide Us Toward a Just Future

“The civil rights movement offers a blueprint for creating meaningful social change,” writes Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ph.D. Making connections for young people between past movements and present circumstances is imperative, as is having meaningful support in place for honest conversations that can sometimes be difficult. These LFJ resources can help.

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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year, as we honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we want to reflect upon the reality of his mission and share with young people the complexity of both the man and the civil rights movement. In recent years, King’s legacy has been used in attacks on critical race theory and attempts to undermine social justice education. These LFJ resources—including words of wisdom from the late Rep. John Lewis—can aid in understanding the contemporary significance of the civil rights movement in countering policies that attempt to limit teaching honest history.

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Prevention and Resilience

The second anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol approaches with the new year, reminding us that it’s critical to help young people understand, contextualize and counter manipulative and harmful disinformation. And because online hate continues to function as a crisis-level threat to democracy, digital literacy and models to prevent and build resilience against extremism must be among contemporary solutions.

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Building Communities to Sustain Us

Creating communities is essential in our efforts toward a more inclusive society because, as Sarah-SoonLing Blackburn, LFJ deputy director of Learning & Engagement notes, “This work is more sustainable when we share it with others.” Whether for educators in spaces where censorship is a reality, young people and others who bear the brunt of oppressive policies and actions, or those who face targeted attempts of erasure, building connections reminds us we are not alone in this work.

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Creating a Society Rooted in Justice

Parents and caregivers are at the forefront in efforts to give children the foundation to build future inclusive societies. Nationally recognized anti-racist writer and educator Britt Hawthorne recommends starting early with children to create homes “rooted in justice, compassion and love.” These LFJ resources include recommendations for growing readers and their families that affirm identities, celebrate diversity and highlight justice because, as Hawthorne explains, “When we’re genuinely in and relating to our community, we’ll sense the injustices and justices of the world.”

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"Learning for Justice new fall issue out now."

Read the Newest Issue of ‘Learning for Justice’ Magazine!

In promoting diversity and fighting racism, inclusive education programs forged pathways toward building equitable societies. Now, as our nation confronts multiple assaults on democratic values, we hold firm in the fight to protect—and to expand—democracy through social justice education.

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