Black Lives Matter at School Conference

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Black Lives Matter at School circular image

From February 2 - February 4, Woodring College of Education will host the first-annual Black Lives Matter at School Conference. This week of action is part of the National Black Lives Matter at Schools Week of Action and Year of Purpose campaign taking place in cities across the U.S. to promote a set of national demands based in the Black Lives Matter guiding principles that focus on improving the school experience for students of color.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a powerful, non-violent peace movement that systematically examines injustices that exist at the intersections of race, class, and gender; including mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare.


2019 WWU Info Fair

Wednesday Feb. 2nd

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM How Do We Create and Sustain Ecosystems to Ensure Black Lives Matter at School?

The goal of this session is to address the larger systems that impact the lives of Black families and children both within and outside the school system. The speakers in this panel discussion will focus on school as an ecosystem—acknowledging embedded and intersecting systems—that underpins any and all educational goals relating to BLM at school. We will focus on the role of non-teacher school staff, families, and radical love as foundational components of BLM at School initiatives and their role in sustaining the movement beyond a week of events.

Featuring: Dr. Verónica N. Vélez (WWU), Dr. Brandyn-Dior McKinley (Smith College), Joy G. Turner (Program Analyst, College & Career Readiness, Seattle Public Schools)


4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Book Q&A Session

Based on Dr. Love’s Book - "We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and The Pursuit of Educational Freedom"

Recommended for: Teacher Education and Human Services Students and Professionals

Thursday Feb. 3rd

10:30 AM- 12:00 PM Energy Pawning: Protecting our Energy in Times of Black Hate and violence.

BLM has been a catalyst to the many expressions Black people around the world have used to show solidarity for the fight for justice. Black people represent the love for our skin tone by wearing “Melanin” and "Justice Statement" slogan shirts and rocking the natural hair look.  We express, and wear the shirts because it speaks to the outer beauty of ourselves that we would like to be recognized as a gift from the sun and it openly displays love for ourselves over the dominant narrative in media, advertisement, and movies that White is better.  During these times of demonstrations and expressions, we give out so much Energy and we deplete ourselves from exhaustion.  When you do a deeper discovery and gain an understanding of the “Dark Matter” in our bodies, it will help you redirect your moves, refocus your eyes, help you respond to stress, recharge your energy, and build healthy relationships.  It’s time to break the habits of just being and become enlightened of what is inside of us all, and eager to be recognized as a bond to our living.  Back people will continue to fight, protect, express, and grow together with the understanding that it is required to check your battery and recharge with the understanding that we can no longer pawn our energy without receiving what is asked in return.

Featuring Rashad Norris, Relevant Engagement Consulting, LLC

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Listen Up: An Anti-Racist Orientation

Featuring Dr. Danné E. Davis, Montclair State University

Friday, February 4th

10:00 AM - 11 AM We Gon’ Be Alright, But That Ain’t Alright

Keynote presentation featuring Dr. Bettina Love.

Dr. Love’s talk will discuss the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex. Abolitionist Teaching is built on the creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists to demand and fight for an educational system where all students are thriving, not simply surviving.


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM WWU Student Resources Panel Discussion

This session will highlight to students the various resources available on campus and their accessibility to them. This conference will showcase a variety of speakers, professionals, and experts that will raise trauma, bring to the surface important topics and conversations that we want to make sure our students have a mechanism to heal and process. These panelists will personalize their discussion to student needs.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Student Voices

More information coming soon

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Why We Can't Wait: A Lifetime Commitment to our Black Males

In every conceivable way, Black boys and males are villainized, scrutinized, and stripped of their joy. Our young Black males and in particular those ages birth to 9 are dying, not at the hands of our policing system, but at the hands of our educational system. It is why our commitment to Black boyhood, manhood, and malehood, cannot just stop when they are out of our care but is a lifelong commitment to their mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing and health. In this session, Mike (he/him), an Afro-Caribbean male educator of color working with toddlers, and Amir (he/him), a Black male educator working with high school and college-aged students, comes together to talk about what Black love, Black agency, Black identity, and most importantly, what Black joy looks like across the Preschool to College-Aged Spectrum and how we can shift our practice to center Black humanity in our work with children.

Featuring: Dr. Amir Gilmore (Washington State University) and Mike Browne (University of Washington)

About Our Presenters

red square fountain, miller hall and parks hall
Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of education reform, anti-racism, carceral studies, abolition, and Black joy. The aim of her scholarship is twofold: firstly, to advance how the field of education understands and critiques the systemic and structural racism of public education within the U.S.; and secondly, to advocate for abolitionist approaches in the field of education that seek new possibilities for educational justice. In the pursuit of making her scholarship a reality, she works with activists, communities, youth, families, and school districts to build communal, civically-engaged schools rooted in the aspirations of abolitionist strategies that love and affirm Black and Brown children. In 2020, Dr. Love co-founded the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN). ATN’s mission is simple: develop and support teachers and parents to fight injustice within their schools and communities.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics, including Abolitionist Teaching, anti-racism, Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement and issues of diversity and inclusion. 

Mike Browne

Mike Browne

Mike Browne (he/him) is an east coast transplant from New York with an MBA degree in International Business and Marketing. He currently serves as the Sr. Director of Community Engagement at Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington where he organizes culturally responsive professional development workshops and opportunities for leaders working with young children. Prior to that, he served as the Sr. Community Engagement Manager at Hilltop Children’s Center and Educator Institute. After exchanging his tap shoes for football shoes, played Division 1 Football for the University at Albany, where he played cornerback and safety. Following 3 years of working and living in London and Spain, he found his way to Seattle where he has been building bridges between communities to help create a city where the voices of the marginalized are heard, inclusive policies are created, and citizens unite to form a vibrant urban center. While over the years, his job titles may have changed, and the cities he lives in may look different, one thing has remained the same – his ability to create and implement purposeful desired community change, form effective relationships, and sustain community vitality. Feel free to contact him via LinkedIn,  via email, or on Twitter @miguelito_brownie.  

Dr Danne Davis

Dr. Danné E. Davis

Dr. Danné E. Davis is an Associate Professor at Montclair State University. Dr. Davis' research interests center on multicultural education, the arts, and teacher education. Her current work involves increasing elementary teacher candidates' awareness of and responsiveness to LGBT diversity. Using music and song to teach about the Black Experience is another focus.

Amir Gilmore

Amir Gilmore

Amir Gilmore Ph.D. (he/him) is a professor of Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education and Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion for Student Success and Retention at Washington State University. Amir’s interdisciplinary background in Cultural Studies, Africana Studies, and Education allows him to traverse the boundaries across the social sciences, the arts, and the humanities. His interests in Black Critical Theory and Black Masculinities ground his scholarship on Black Boy Joy, and he is well versed in areas such as Critical Race Theory, feminisms, and social theory. His vision and scholarship make critical contributions to the fields of Black Studies and Education, as well as connects to larger discussions of Afrofuturism and Black Aesthetics. He’s a New York-raised, Black, male educator with a PS5.

Brandyn-Dior McKinley, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Brandyn-Dior McKinley

Brandyn-Dior (Brandyn) McKinley is an assistant professor in the School for Social Work. McKinley’s scholarship uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine the impact of racism and other forms of oppression on the holistic wellness (e.g., social, emotional, relational, and economic health) of Black women and Black families. 

McKinley has been involved with research exploring the interpersonal and sociocultural factors that influence the mental health outcomes of African American women in three-generation families and the relationship experiences of African American married couples.

McKinley’s recent work examines how intersections of race, class, and gender inform the strategies middle-class Black mothers use to navigate predominantly white spaces on behalf of their adolescent daughters as part of their efforts to protect them from the social, emotional, and academic costs of discrimination.

Rashad Norris

Rashad Norris

Rashad Norris received his BA in Marketing Communication with a Minor in English from the University of Puget Sound where he also played basketball. He earned his Master’s in Public Administration from the Evergreen State College.  As the founder of Relevant Engagement Consulting LLC, he partners with the State of Washington (DYHS) Department of Child, Youth and Families Services Community, Reentry and Parole Programs Juvenile Rehabilitation by conducting culturally relevant healing sessions with incarcerated teens as a part of the youth's re-entry process.  

In addition to his work, he has extensive experience in creating black and brown male engagement programs and services and providing proven youth of color engaging strategies.  He has been asked to lead workshop sessions for professional development with teachers and administrators from local and state school districts regarding student engagement practices. Rashad also delivers motivational presentations that uplift young people in the community through keynote addresses, seminars, professional development workshops, and conference presentations to adults working in the education system.  

Joy Turner, MPA

Joy Turner

Joy Turner, MPA is a program analyst for Seattle Public Schools. She is first generation college graduate who works to make higher education accessible to all students. Joy’s work includes demystifying the college application process and getting young people thinking about college and beyond.

Dr. Vero Velez

Dr. Verónica N. Vélez

Dr. Verónica N. Vélez is an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and Education & Social Justice. Her research focuses on Latinx im/migrant mother activism, community-based participatory action research in grassroots contexts, popular education, and (re)imagining cartographic tools for movement building and critical inquiry. Each of these areas is informed by expertise in Critical Race Theory (CRT), Latinx Critical Theory (LatCrit), Radical and Tactical Cartography, and Chicana Feminist Epistemologies. Influenced and inspired by these varied, but interrelated frameworks, she and her mentor, Dr. Daniel Solorzano at UCLA, developed Critical Race Spatial Analysis (CRSA), a framework and methodological approach that seeks to deepen a spatial consciousness and expand the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in critical race research in education. 

In addition to her scholarly work, Dr. Vélez worked as a grassroots organizer with Latinx im/migrant families for over 15 years on local school reform efforts and adult literacy campaigns rooted in popular education. Alongside Dr. Longoria at WWU, she is currently organizing with teachers, administrators, and community members to collectively lead the development of Ethnic Studies in Bellingham Public Schools.


If you have any questions about programming, registration, accessibility, or would like to make a financial contribution to support the conference, please contact Genevieve Carrillo at