UB to host two-day symposium that aims to fulfill MLK’s vision of justice, equity in schools

Graphic stating “Creating the Beloved Community” with the "o" stylized as a heart.

Free and open symposium to feature discussions on reshaping education; keynote speakers include New York Times bestselling author Christopher Emdin

Release Date: March 10, 2021

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Portrait of Terri N. Watson.
“As such, our job is not to merely teach kindness and test-taking skills. Rather, we must practice love and provide all students with the skills that will enable them to reach their dreams. I hope this symposium inspires us to be who we needed when we were children. ”
Terri N. Watson, UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar and associate professor of leadership and human development at The City College of New York, CUNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. — To help transform schools into spaces founded in justice, equal opportunity and unconditional love, the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education will host “Creating the Beloved Community,” a two-day virtual symposium that will feature nationally-renowned authors, activists and educators who will share insights on reshaping our education system.

Themed around Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a “Beloved Community,” the symposium will allow faculty, staff, students and guests to explore new and different ways to transform all schools into safe and loving spaces where all children can grow and thrive.

Among the keynote speakers is Christopher Emdin, PhD, award-winning author of books including, “Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation,” and the New York Times Bestseller, “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too.”

“Creating the Beloved Community” is free and open to the public. It is scheduled on Monday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Tuesday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To attend, guests may register online at ed.buffalo.edu/beloved-community.

“Coming together as an academic community to listen, learn and exchange ideas around equity, diversity, justice and inclusion is critical if we are to realize just and inclusive schools for all children,” says Suzanne Rosenblith, PhD, dean of the UB Graduate School of Education.

Each day will include breakout session discussion groups open to UB students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education. Led by scholars, faculty and community partners, students and guests will further examine five C’s critical to transforming schools into safe, loving spaces: care, courage, critical reflection, commitment and community.

“I am excited to convene this symposium with UB that explores what I learned based on my 25-plus years as a teacher, mother and education researcher. What I know for sure is that in order for all schools to effectively educate all children, they must function as ‘Beloved Communities,’” said Terri N. Watson, PhD, UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar and associate professor of leadership and human development at The City College of New York, CUNY.

“As educators, we are bound to act ‘in loco parentis,’ meaning ‘in place of the parents.’ As such, our job is not to merely teach kindness and test-taking skills,” said Watson. “Rather, we must practice love and provide all students with the skills that will enable them to reach their dreams. I hope this symposium inspires us to be who we needed when we were children.”

Each keynote will address one of the five C’s:

  • Care: “Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success,” by Christopher Emdin, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as associate director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. Emdin is an award-winning author of “Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation” and the New York Times Bestseller, “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too.”
  • Courage: “When Warriors Cry: Education, Integration and the Color of Love,” by Noliwe Rooks, PhD, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor, director of the American Studies Program and professor of Africana studies at Cornell University. A scholar on race, racism, inequality, education and gender, Rooks has authored four books, edited four collections and published writing in numerous media outlets.
  • Community: “Children Framing Childhoods: Working-Class Kids’ Vision of Care,” by Wendy Luttrell, PhD, professor of urban education, critical psychology and sociology, and executive officer of the Urban Education PhD Program at The City University of New York Graduate Center. Luttrell’s research examines how urban U.S. schooling shapes and reinforces beliefs about gender, race, class, identity, knowledge and power, with a focus in how systems of inequality get internalized, especially by learners who have been marginalized, excluded or stigmatized.
  • Critical Reflection: “Disrupting Dysconciousness: Confronting Anti-Blackness in Education,” by Shannon R. Waite, EdD, clinical assistant professor of educational leadership at Fordham University and member of the Panel for Educational Policy for New York City's Department of Education. Waite researches diversity recruitment and pipeline programs, culturally responsive school leadership and critical consciousness in educational leaders, and examines hyper-segregation and its connection to the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Commitment: “Committing to Justice: Advancing Culturally Responsive- Sustaining Education in the Midst of Pandemics,” by David E. Kirkland, PhD, JD, Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and vice dean for the Office of Equity, Belonging and Community Action at New York University, and executive director of The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. Kirkland is an activist, educator, cultural critic, author, and a leading national scholar and advocate for educational justice.
  • Community: “Creating the Beloved Community,” by Terri N. Watson, PhD, UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar and associate professor of leadership and human development at The City College of New York, CUNY. Watson will moderate a student panel where young people will discuss what they need to create a “Beloved Community” at UB.

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