When the police officer leaned over me to tell me he was arresting me, I told myself to look proud. As they lifted me to my feet, I told myself to stand tall and look forward. I was not ashamed of this walk or the zip ties around my wrists. I had committed myself to protecting kids when I became a teacher 11 years ago. I had sworn an oath. And if this is what it was going to take to show people just how dire our situation is in our public schools, I had to do it. I owed that much to my students.
In education we talk a lot about modeling. You want to teach your kids skills, but just stating them isn’t enough. You have to actually do the things you want them to do. Be that model. And this was one of those times. As the words of Assata Shakur were chanted behind me, everything that had led up to this point felt…right.
It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains. -Assata Shakur
It is our duty, y’all. When things aren’t right. When people are struggling. When some are readily handed privilege that others can only covet, it is our duty to fight. We have to. This contract that we are in together is predicated on people’s ability to live good, whole lives. And when systems work to halt that, not only do we fight, we win.
Death by a thousand cuts. That’s what my students are facing. And after almost three years of devastating budgets, I was beginning to lose my resolve. To watch innocent children and hard working, honest folks get torn to pieces by absolutely impossible demands while being stripped of all supports they need is crushing. I was beginning to feel hopeless.
But the love that flowed through our clasped hands. The love that came from all the folks surrounding us just washed all that pain away. We as a people have a capacity for unabashed love that can heal and protect us. It is the way we win. It is the way we become free. I know that now with everything I got.
I didn’t want it to come to this. I didn’t want to be sitting in the street. I have written op-eds, called legislators, written emails, lobbied, phonebanked and canvassed. I have done everything I know to do to fight for the students of North Carolina. But the NCGA and Governor McCrory continue to put my kids in danger, so it is my duty to fight. People can accomplish some pretty incredible things. Just a week ago, I saw and felt that on a scale I had never before experienced. My hope is that more of you will see this and join us. There’s so much more that needs to be done, the students of NC need you, and together, we’re gonna win this thing. http://www.organize2020.com/join/