Centering Us: The Banks Center for Educational Justice

We launched the Banks Center for Educational Justice five months ago here on Coast Salish homelands in the College of Education at the
University of Washington. We build with the extraordinary legacy of James Banks and also of Cherry Banks. Over this first year and going forward, a main goal is to understand, join and, in some small way, contribute to the project of Native and Black solidarities and coalitions through education. As director of the center, it is important to recognize that in my own early awakening, I have learned with many people about the often distinct and sometimes commiserate projects of resurgence and survivance and decolonization for Native people, of liberation and abolition for Black people, as together we live out the ongoing legacies of stolen land, stolen labor and stolen lives. In November, we were grateful to host Joy Williamson-Lott discussing her book “Jim Crow Campus,” in conversation with Michelle Purdy. Doctors Williamson-Lott and Purdy offered us a
master class in the ways both predominantly and historically white
as well as Black public and private institutions and their
faculty and students resisted or forwarded the Black freedoms struggle in the
middle part of the last century. And protecting them not only honors the activists of the past, but it ensures that institutions of higher education remain vital and vibrant spaces to sustain democracy. If we’re going to be about educational justice
and education for liberation, we have to find allies across the spectrum
of educational research and even outside of educational research
with those scholars. Recently, we hosted a Teaching for Black Lives gathering on campus in which we brought together educators and community members around
Black Lives Matter At School Week and the new book “Teaching for Black Lives.” A lot of times, we as black students can walk through the hallways and feel like silhouettes because we’re either not seen or nobody speaking to our stories or nobody’s like, “Hey, how are you doing today?” In May, we’re honored to host the gathering on Native Teacher Education, an opportunity for us to center Native students, families and communities in teacher education and beyond. The Banks Center is committed to being
part of this project toward educational justice for our communities now and toward the future.

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