Equity in Action!

See below for just a sample of the many equity-related activities and learning opportunities happening in schools across the district.

Three DHS Black Student Union Members
Featured in Atlanta Magazine!

Many of us know our students are #WorldChangers but recently a few of our DHS students received special recognition by being featured in Atlanta Magazine. These students, Daxton Pettus, Genesis Reddicks, and Liza Watson, are featured for their efforts to remove some of Decatur's most controversial monuments.
Click here to read the story in its entirety.

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Magazine photographer Ben Rollins.

Clairemont Elementary Celebrates the Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Click here to view a message from Clairemont's Principal, Dr. Curtis Armour, Jr, celebrating the birthday and the life and legacy of the great humanitarian, civil rights leader, and Atlanta native, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

DHS Close Up honors John Lewis with the Share the Impact A Creative Expression Contest

Because of COVID-19, DHS's Annual Close Up Trip to Washington D.C., had to be canceled. Instead, the organizers decided to take this as an opportunity to honor Congressman John Lewis with an essay contest where students could share how Congressman Lewis has impacted their lives. Please click here to view the video below for some of their incredible work.

At 7:28 in this video, you will hear First prize winner Audrey Ferguson-Brown read her award-winning poem and you will watch a montage of meaningful photos.

Equity Spotlight Stories -2019-2020 School Year
(First Published in the District Dispatch Monthly District-wide Newsletter)

Stories from March 2020 Dispatch

CSD Celebrates Black History Month

Clairemont's Black History Program

Last month's Clairemont Black History Program was an exciting celebration of Black history and heritage! The evening, which was MCed by two of the students, began with a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, sung by Music teacher Ms. Nelson. We were so honored to be joined by the renowned African drumming group Giwayen Mata, and the brothers of Emory's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity who performed a step routine. Clairemont students also performed a step routine as well as read poetry and a video of their art was shown.

F.AVE's Black History Performance

Ms. Carty organized, directed, and coordinated the entire event; Ms. B. Stewart added choreography; Mr. Madden was the art director; Ms. Chaney contributed the costumes and makeup; and Mr. Brooks directed the drumming. Thank you also to Ms. Theisen, Mr. Holliday, Mr. Robillard, Ms. Cain, Ms. Monroe, Ms. Waugh, and Ms. Mangual for their support for this event. Thank you to all these teachers who volunteered their time and talents to make this an amazing performance!

  • Also thanks go out to Mr. Stewart for his coordination of the Black History Bowl.

Talley's Wax Museum and Celebrates Black History Month

All Talley Street students were encouraged to help Talley Street Elementary celebrate Black History Month by participating in their living wax museum on Wednesday, February 26. Students then researched African Americans (both past and present) who were important figures in history or who have made a positive difference in our world.

Each student then wrote a short speech in the first person that they was read to an audience at the African American Wax Museum. Students also created tri-fold posters with pictures of the African American they have chosen and were asked to dress up as their person and bring props or other things that brought authenticity to their character. A special thanks to Ms. Brewton for helping organize this amazing event. Please see the video below for a montage of the students' wonderful work! To see the video, please visit https://youtu.be/Huw-DzYRts8.

Talley Black History Month Celebration

Talley also had a Black History Month Celebration on Friday, February 28th which honored spoken word, musical and dance performances in celebration of Black History - Past, Present, Future. The drumming group Giwayen Mata performed as well as Talley students from Project S.L.I.D.E.

Glennwood's Black History Month Read-In

At the end of February, Glennwood Elementary hosted their first African American Read-In in honor of Black History Month! Over a dozen black community leaders came to join us for this special event and to read to #OurKids at Glennwood.

Among the honored guests were Mayor Emeritus Elizabeth Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, City Commissioner Lesa Mayer, Decatur Fire Chief Toni Washington, Decatur Police's SRO Anthony Robinson and Officer Kimberly Parks as well as Ariel Cornwall, children's book author of "The Story of Happy Tooth and The Sad Tooth." Special guests from the City Schools of Decatur's Wilson School Support Center included Daryl Campbell, Dr. Lillie Huddleston, Marcia Fowler, Maima Simmons, Tatrabian Lockwood, and Harold Rall. We owe a special thanks to music teacher Monica Nelson for her moving performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

The idea of a National African American Read-In may be new to Glennwood, but it is not new to our country. In an effort to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English created African American Read-Ins almost 30 years ago! For more information, visit https://ncte.org/get-involved/african-american-read-in.

Glennwood is proud to start this new school tradition and as a result, is hoping to expose students to outstanding African American literature that is accessible and relevant all year round.

DHS Black Student Union Hosts a panel on MLK in Decatur

Did you know MLK was arrested and illegally sentenced here in Decatur?

Last month a notable panel of important Decatur residents discussed an event in Decatur that had a pivotal role in Martin Luther King’s life and changed the course of politics as we know it. MLK was ticketed for a minor traffic charge and went through a trial here in Decatur. The judge, who was known to be a racist, severely sentenced MLK to prison. However, John F. Kennedy, who was a candidate for president at that time, and his brother intervened to help MLK and made sure he would not have to go to prison. After JFK intervened on his behalf, MLK and his supporters asked all Black Americans to change their votes to JFK in the 1960 presidential election. This changed the way Black voters in our country voted going forward.

This panel was invited to speak by Decatur High School's Black Student Union who's members are working to get a historic plaque placed in Decatur to commemorate this incident.

Here’s the background information from the DHS Black Student Union:

Martin Luther King Jr. got a traffic ticket and was sentenced to a chain gang. Yes, this really happened, in Decatur, Georgia.

The Black Students Union at Decatur High School is leading a campaign for the creation of a Georgia Historical Society marker at McDonough and Trinity avenues in Decatur. At this spot in October 1960, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was sentenced to four months on a chain gang in a misdemeanor traffic case. John F. Kennedy and his brother intervened with segregationist Democrats to get him freed, and narrowly won the presidency days later. This pivotal episode elevating King’s national stature, accelerating the Civil Rights movement and revealing the power of black voters happened here in Decatur.

We have been spending months researching the facts of this case in preparation for the submission of our marker application later this spring. We’ve uncovered essential documents, including the case files of King’s lawyer and rarely seen news photos and newsfilm proving when and where King was illegally sentenced, and putting the case in historical context. We have been working with archivists at the King Center in Atlanta, the DeKalb History Center, Morehouse College, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State and Kennesaw State Universities.

We also are honored to be working with some eyewitnesses to the events of this story:

  • Charles Black, who co-founded the Atlanta Student Movement at Morehouse and was inside the courtroom when King was sentenced.

  • Dr. Roslyn Pope, who wrote “An Appeal for Human Rights,” the movement’s manifesto, while at Spelman College

  • Decatur Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, who witnessed the treatment of King and later desegregated the DeKalb Public Library

  • DeKalb Judge Clarence Seeliger, who defeated King’s sentencing judge, J. Oscar Mitchell, in 1980 and removed Mitchell’s Confederate battle flag from the courtroom.

To raise awareness and build community support for the marker, we’re unveiling our campaign on Feb. 13, at an assembly at Decatur High School (to be held from 10:15-11:45 a.m. in the school auditorium). The assembly will include a student-created multimedia presentation explaining the story, including historic documents and student interviews with Black, Pope, Wilson and Seeliger, who will then appear at a panel discussion about King’s treatment in Decatur.

We’ll follow up by reaching out to city officials for their support on the logistics of placing the marker, and by raising the necessary funds. The historical society will vote on our application in October 2020, on the 60th anniversary of this pivotal event in American history.

To view the video of the panel, please visit: https://youtu.be/RvTsT7DjEO8.

Clairemont's Black History Program

F.AVE's Black History Performance

Talley's Black History Month
Wax Museum

Glennwood's Black History
Month Read-In

DHS BSU Panel on MLK

February 2020 Board Equity Spotlight: Clairemont Elementary

Clairemont Elementary Equity Team Board Spotlight presented by Clairemont’s Equity Team Members: Dr. Curtis Armour Jr , Jean-Jacques Credi, Chanell Huff-Cox, Alice Gerstel, Tom Seetoo, Kathy Hill, Paris Hardnett, Tyler Mangascle, Linda Sadler, Mimi Guinn, and Allie Mansfield

A video was shown where the students and adults described the differences between Equity and Equality based on the image below. Many described what they saw in the image below and how equity is being fair so no one gets left out or left behind, and so everyone has the same opportunities to succeed. Here is a link to the video that was shown: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ovcXDYiXzhUU8BmHx5mnCqWNhlpqWndv/view.

As a part of their equity work, each month the whole school reads the same book. The books they have discussed include, Let's talk about Race, Shaking Things Up, The Proudest Blue, Can I Touch Your Hair and Wilma Unlimited.

January 2020 Board Equity Spotlight: Oakhurst Elementary's Family Reading Campout

During Family Literacy Month in November, Oakhurst put on a Family Reading Campout with the goal to expose our students and families to multicultural books and resources to begin a dialogue about race topics such as inclusion, diversity, and assumptions. Mari Ann Banks, CSD’s District Equity Coordinator, kicked off the event by reading aloud to the entire group, then students and families were encouraged to find a book and a cozy spot to read. Digital resources, such as reading prompts, apps, and websites, were given to aid in the discussions around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Brave and Kind Bookstore, a local minority-owned bookstore, attended and brought their diverse selection of books for the students and families to browse.

To continue these conversations, the media center has used their Instagram account and their weekly newsletters to highlight diverse books. Next, the Equity Team is planning a three-night EL expedition for parents in the spring. The goal of this expedition is to encourage new relationships and connections among families different from them, and to explore biases, share their perspectives, and hearing the perspectives of others.

December 2019 Board Equity Spotlight: Glennwood Elementary's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

This fall Glennwood staff members Jonathan Holloman and Michael Scott started the Boys in Action after school club, pictured above. The group has been busy since they formed, they have taking field trips, working on service projects, reading books by and about people who look like them, and learning how to achieve their dreams. Some of the student members of the club came and talked to the Board about what the club has meant to them. It was an inspiration to hear them explain how this club has affected them. Thank you to DEF for the funding to support this club.

  • In addition, the Glennwood Equity Team and parent facilitators led staff in a conversation about whiteness with the staff and discussed the article "Ten Myths White People Believe About Racism" and "How to be an Anti-Racist."

November 2019 Board Equity Spotlight: Winonna Park - Empathy

Principal Ruth Scott presented Winnona Park's Empathy and Equity Board Spotlight at the November 12 Board Meeting. She distinguished between empathy and sympathy and explained how Winnona Park teaches their K-2 children to choose empathy daily through Morning Crew Meetings and Restorative Practices. They also added Empathy to their EL Habits of Character, which they focus on throughout the school. For instance, they read books that help inspire more empathy and then discuss the empathy shown in these books. To grow empathy with parents and community, they are working with the PTA's Diversity and Inclusion committee to host discussions about difficult issues to help the community grow. This year they hosted an open forum on empathy facilitated by Kristin Moody, an expert in transformational practices of empathy who works with institutions as well as individuals to help them incorporate more practices of empathy into their lives. They have also hosted three Peace and Pie community dinners that facilitate small-group discussions about racism, with the goal to help break down barriers within the school community. Principal Scott also hosts regular Coffee Chats to share information with parents and allow time for parents to ask questions in an attempt to help grow understanding and transparency.

To build empathy with the teachers and staff, they have utilized the skills they learned in the Courageous Conversations About Race Beyond Diversity training, and the corresponding book, to help grow the staff's understanding and empathy and to evaluate their curriculum and any bias it may show.

October 2019 Board Equity Spotlight:

Renfroe Middle School's Equity Professional Learning Opportunities

The Equity Team for Renfroe Middle School(RMS) shared with the Board their plan for professional learning(PL) and their experience with their first PL, which focused on Restorative Practices.

Restorative practices are processes that proactively build healthy relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing. Restorative practices are increasingly being applied in individual schools and school districts to address youth behavior and to improve school climate and culture. Restorative practices can improve relationships between students as well as between educators, whose behavior often serves as a role model for students.

Principal Greg Wiseman shared that this was the first of eight Equity PL opportunities for the RMS staff scheduled throughout the year.

September 2019 Board Equity Spotlight:

DHS Students now able to check out Chromebooks

At the Tuesday, September 10 Board meeting Eston Melton, Executive Director of Information Services, Ifeude Hill, DHS Media Specialist, and Wes Hatfield, DHS Principal, presented preliminary outcomes of a take-home technology pilot program designed to increase technology access for DHS students. The program was developed to promote educational equity by providing devices and wifi hotspots for students to complete assignments at home. This program is managed through the DHS Learning Commons, and more information is available at https://www.csdecatur.net/Page/3899. This program makes computers and Wifi available for students who may not have access to those technologies at home.

September 2019 Board Equity and Student Support Update:

New DHS Club - Students Organized for Anti-Racism

We are excited to announce a new student club at DHS called SOAR, Students Organized for Anti-Racism. This group represents our first explicit step in including student voice in the ongoing work around racial equity at Decatur High School and in the City Schools of Decatur. This effort is a key part of our District Improvement Plan.

SOAR addresses issues of race, identity and academic achievement through meaningful and ongoing conversations among and between students and the adults in their schools. The goal of SOAR is to empower multiracial groups of students to take on the identity of anti-racist leaders in their schools and communities and to place no limits on the kind of change-makers students can become.

On Monday, September 9 and Tuesday, September 10, DHS students in this new SOAR club participated in Courageous Conversations- a class that all CSD employees have been taking over the last year. Courageous Conversations helps to open the dialogue about race, racism, and inequality in our society and in particular in our schools. These students are the first to take this course and we hope many more will follow in this effort to discuss and confront racism.

DHS Library Awarded a Grant to Start "Deeper Than Our Skins" Book Club

Congratulations to DHS library media specialist, Ifeude Hill, who was awarded a grant from the American Library Association to start a program called "Deeper Than Our Skins." This book club will teach students to use racial healing circles and literature study to move beyond the constructs of race to engage with people on a deeper human level. We are thrilled for our DHS students and look forward to hearing more about this book club in the future.

Check this page regularly for more stories.