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Monday, April 22, 2024

The EduVerse with ProfessorJBA: Birthing a new generation of abolitionists teachers

Jason Allen
Jason Allen
Jason B. Allen is an educator and education reporter. He attended school in Atlanta, K-12, and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia and earned a B.A. in English and M.A. in special education.

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Traveling across the East coast, I’ve realized that more and more parents across cities and states are having the same issues in public education. Often times it’s the very same script but with a different cast.

While I was in Philadelphia organizing parent and community leaders for educational justice, the last living sibling of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passed away in Atlanta.

Dr. Willie Christine King Farris lived almost 96 years, decades after experiencing some of the most traumatic moments of her life during the civil rights movement. A little-known American history fact, not only was Dr. King, her dear brother, assassinated but also their mother, and their brother “mysteriously” died but many believe was killed as well.

Despite all, Christine King Farris made a legacy of her own beyond being best known as Dr. King’s sister and a fearless, civil rights leader, she also was a bold abolitionist teacher!

Her boldness in teaching and leading rang as loudly as the battle cries for freedom during the civil rights marches of the 50s and 60s. Abolitionist teachers played a critical role post-civil rights movement in helping inspire freedom fighters who would change racial barriers in fields over a period of 50 years.

Mrs. Farris was focused on creating opportunities for all children and students to succeed by empowering her students to not simply talk about freedom, but to make steps towards freedom in their families, communities and our society.

What makes us abolitionist teachers is our intent to change social injustices within our society. Now due to restrictions on teaching history and culture in public schools, we don’t have masses of Black teachers who are grounded in the work of abolitionists.

Many teachers preparing to enter the classroom are missing the jewels in our community like Dr. Christine King Farris. Thankfully we have organizations like the Center for Black Educator Development, which is a safe space for Black teachers wanting to teach history, facts and pathways to freedom without being silenced, punished or scared for their jobs.

As the world will be honoring Dr. Farris’s legacy, let’s not forget that she believed in all children receiving a free, equitable and fair education. She believed that our investment should not be in prison cells but in classrooms preparing our next generation for the future.

I have not only had the opportunity to study Dr. Farris’s life, hear her speak as a student in Atlanta Public Schools, see her in action within our community but also hear her speak to and mentor aspiring, new and veteran teachers.

In 2017 when Mr. Newton Farris Sr. passed away, I had the opportunity to be with my daddy as he worked with Mrs. Farris and the family on his funeral program. It wasn’t just a beautiful, Black love story. It spoke to the utter importance of the joy, peace and prosperity we as Black Americans find in our faith, family and the fight for justice.

As Dr. Farris transitions into the realm of our ancestors, it’s going to take parents, teachers and community leaders now to ensure that the successes, struggles and stories of past generations aren’t left behind due to book bans, removing cultural literacy and our legacy that holds together the fabric of these United States.

When children see the news and ask about Dr. King’s sister, Christine King Farris, you should be able to tell them that she was a hero, a teacher and an educator who believed that we should be elevating humanity through civil and human rights, social justice and economic equality. Tell them that her legacy lives on through us and our next generation that will hopefully and finally see the walls of the system of injustice crumble.

Dr. Christine Farris King has left us to birth the next generation of abolitionists teachers, which starts in one of the most important learning stages and classrooms: home.

Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Jason B. Allen at jasona@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter ProfessorJBA.

Jason’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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