Abdel Shakur is a writer and teacher concerned with telling the stories of Black teachers. A Catalyst Chicago Classroom Story Slam winner and 13th year veteran in the classroom, Abdel and his guests reflect on an essential question: Why are Black teachers so important to the lives of children?
It's rare that Black girls get a chance at innocence in academic spaces. I tell a story about confronting my own Whiteness to create space for a young woman to engage the questions that really mattered to her. I also sit down with one of my most influential teachers, Crystal Wilkinson, author of The Birds of Opulence. We talk about the life of a Black teachers and how she creates space for students to take control of their own learning. She also helps me come to terms with some petty nonsense I did to her way back when.
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Way back in my first year of teaching in 2008, I was having standoffs over handshakes, Barack Obama was just the president-elect, and I swear I saw a boy take innocent flight in my class one day. I also sit down with the novelist and education leader, Alexs Pate, to talk about his newest book, The Innocent Classroom: Dismantling Racial Bias to Support Students of Color, his theory of innocence and how it relates to the power of Black teachers.
Black Teacher Matters is a podcast about stories, my own as a mixed Black man in education, and the stories of the Black teachers who shaped me in some kind of way. This podcast is about exploring the narratives I’ve developed for myself as a mixed Black man who works to help young people educate themselves. This podcast is about finding out what I’ve done and why I’m doing it and how we can keep more Black folks in this role. Each episode you’ll hear a story from me and then I’ll introduce you to someone significant in my educational life. I hope you enjoy.
Before I became a teacher, I was a kid with a book stealing habit, labeled as having a cavalier attitude towards education. All of that changed when I stepped into Mr. Miller's AP English class, Patterns in Black Literature. I tell my story and talk with Mr. Miller about the legacy and importance of Black teachers. *Note: Some names have been changed for the sake of privacy.