The Buffalo Public School District and the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives was proud to host Nikole Hannah-Jones on March 16, 2021 to kick off the 6th annual Urban Forum. In this time of the twindemics, the COVID-19 Pandemic and that of systemic racism, Urban Forum 2021 was truly a “One-of-a-Kind Virtual Experience.” Stakeholders from all parts of our District community, including teachers, administrators, board members, students, parents, and community partners, were provided with the opportunity to engage in a shared dialogue around culturally responsive and anti-racist practices that uplift our students, particularly from those communities that have been historically marginalized.
We were honored to have Nikole Hannah-Jones kick off the event with a keynote discussion, moderated by Dr. Fatima Morrell, Associate Superintendent. Mrs. Hannah-Jones shared her research and educational expertise on the accurate historical legacy of African American enslavement and the legacy and contributions of Black Americans that have often been left out of current textbooks and teachings. This discussion inspired participants to consider their role in freeing the minds of our young people and plan for personal and professional actions they can take to ensure equity for all of our students.
“What we don’t teach is as important as what we teach.” ~ Hannah Nicole Jones
For the remainder of the day, participants continued on their anti-racist journey by engaging in several breakout sessions, such as cooking real foods that bring life from African cultures and communities in Buffalo, Kemetic Yoga, which centers mindfulness and mental health awareness, and the integration of spoken word, art, and music into many of the sessions.
Cultural Cooking Session: Jollof Rice
Several sessions on the infusion of the Emancipation Curriculum and the 1619 Project raised awareness about the importance of providing our students with accurate history, while also providing participants with tangible instructional actions.
School 54: Dr. George Blackman
School 59: Dr. Charles R. Drew
School 61: Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction
School 89: Dr. Lydia T. Wright
School 212: Leonardo da Vinci High School
School 305: McKinley High School
School 309: East Community High School
A focus on the human experience and the centering of joy served as the foundation for such sessions as, Parent and Community Empowerment, Scholars Raise Their Voices, and Spoken Word. In these sessions, students’ and parents’ voices were uplifted, allowing for participants to listen and learn about issues that specifically impact students, parents, and the community, as well as possible solutions.
Spoken Word Scholars
Scholars Raise Their Voices
The Office of CLRI sends special gratitude to Kingman Ink for creating the artistic representations seen on this page. The artists were able to synthesize key ideas through pictures and words, while capturing the essence of the featured sessions. These representations have memorialized Urban Forum 2021 and will serve as a reminder of the powerful and momentous events of the day!
Additionally, we would like to thank all facilitators and presenters who provided support with Urban Forum! You truly helped to make this Urban Forum 2021 a successful and inspiring event!
Urban Forum 2021 Resources:
- Session: Indigenous Emancipation Curriculum
- Emancipation Lesson (School 54): Hair Love
- Emancipation Lesson (School 59): Brownies' Book - Bobby Pig
- Emancipation Lesson (School 61): Brownies' Book - A Kindergarten Song
- Emancipation Lesson (School 89): 1619 Project - The Wealth Gap
- Emancipation Lesson (School 212): Brownies' Book - America's First Martyr-Patriot
Urban Forum Background Information:
The first Urban Forum in the Buffalo Public School District was held in March 2016. The District continues to hold this event annually. The intended purpose of the Urban Forum is to open a shared dialogue with all stakeholders--teachers, principals, students, parents, district leaders, board members, and community partners. Each Urban Forum kicks off with a profound keynote speech from an expert in the field of culturally responsive education. Participants are then provided with opportunities for breakout sessions on culturally and linguistically responsive structures and instructional strategies that will enhance the learning outcomes of all District students.