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Perspective | Dudley Flood Center hosts first Mapping the Movement for Racial Equity in Education

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In conjunction with Black History Month, education stakeholders and activists from across North Carolina gathered in Durham on February 20 for the Dudley Flood Center’s first Mapping the Movement for Racial Equity in Education event where attendees were given the opportunity to network and discuss combating inequities in education.

Mapping The Movement is an initiative launched by the Flood Center in 2019 to help build a visible network of organizations engaged in equity work across the state. It’s designed to highlight the efforts that are already underway, especially by those that are centering and being led by communities of color. The initiative is also meant to connect organizations to one another across sectors, facilitate the sharing and building of resources and collective action, and elevate and support the critical work of individual organizations.

Last month’s event was the first of several to be held throughout the year. To kick things off Rep. Zack Hawkins shared a keynote address in which he highlighted the importance of creating pathways for success for all students. 

“I am here because somebody made a pathway for me,” said Rep. Hawkins

As a former educator, he also emphasized the importance of a diverse and respected educator workforce in creating positive student outcomes. Following Rep. Hawkins’ keynote speech attendees were prompted to begin discussions with others from their region on strategies, resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

Also in attendance was Alfred Mays, chief diversity officer and strategist at Burroughs Wellcome Fund and chair of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Mays expressed excitement for potential partnerships as a result of Mapping the Movement. 

“I’m glad to see that Mapping the Movement is taking steps beyond just capturing who’s doing the work and taking the time to connect and determine what we can accomplish together going forward,” Mays said. “Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s key goal here is to see progressions in figuring out who’s who in terms of equity practitioners and how we can work together.”

Conway and Associates CEO and social impact consultant Sandra Wilcox Conway expressed a similar interest in the opportunity to expand impact. 

“If we all work individually it’s not going to solve these problems that we have,” Conway said. “I think it’s a crime that our state can be ranked first in business but last in education efforts, and I think we have to understand and address that so many students of color specifically are losing out because of the choices that our state has made.”

The event also included a powerful performance from students of Durham’s Empower Dance Studio.

Future Mapping the Movement events will aim to build upon the connections made at the initial meeting and further the initiative’s goals:

  • connecting nonprofit, community-based, and school-based organizations to philanthropists who are seeking to fund racial equity work;
  • helping educators, schools, districts, and advocates engaged in racial equity work to identify similar efforts happening across the state;
  • connecting parents and students with community groups, advocates, and sources of support;
  • facilitating the building of research-policy-practice partnerships;
  • and allowing policymakers to learn from key stakeholders about their perspectives, needs, and knowledge of best strategies for policy and practice.

The Flood Center will continue this work at Color of Education on October 7, 2023. This annual summit brings together a diverse group of individuals and organizations to discuss issues around race, education, and community, centering around the need for social justice. The Flood Center now hopes to take it a step further by connecting organizations to strategize and organize around their common cause.

Chanté Russell

Chanté Russell is a journalist and North Carolina native. She currently works at the Public School Forum of North Carolina as a communications analyst.