The first week of February is the annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, which centers 13 guiding principles and four demands of Black Lives Matter at School. Several Teaching for Black Lives study groups participated in the 2024 week of action. Read their stories below.

Hayward, California

Dr. Candace Cofield, study group coordinator, and members from Hayward Unified School District created a Teaching for Black Lives hoodie and t-shirt based on a student design from a logo competition. Folks who purchased a hoodie also sponsored the purchase of a t-shirt for each study group member as gratitude for their dedication.

Staff and students wore hoodies on Monday for Trayvon Martin Memorial Day “to keep building awareness about why we need this study group and because no one should be harmed because of their race and what they are wearing!”

Study group members also shared a coloring book, Before They Were Giants: Portraits of African American Sheroes and Heroes, by Amari Rashad and Dr. AMN. Cofield said the goal is to “teach beyond Martin, Rosa, and Ruby. There’s so much to share and honor about Black culture that we had student council members teaching younger students all about these Black heroes and their significant impact in different industries. They shared information on the loudspeakers and in classrooms, including bilingual classes.”

Galesburg, Illinois

“We invited leaders from our city council, school board, local NAACP chapter, and another local organization, the Support Group for African American Affairs, to greet students as they arrived at school,” said Heather Hellenga, 5th-grade social studies teacher and study group coordinator. Lombard Middle School hosts “High Five Friday” every week with different visitors.

Brooklyn, New York

Johanna Josaphat, study group coordinator, and Equity and SEL coordinator, supported teachers in elevating stories of Black people that are less known. She created a slide deck that weaves in the 13 guiding principles of Black Lives Matter at School for educators to access throughout Black history month. Josaphat included a short bio about Faith Ringgold, artist and author, famously known for writing the children’s book Tar Beach.

Students decorated classroom doors and other walls throughout the school to highlight what they learned.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

The group started the week of action in the library with a celebration of Pura Belpré on her birthday, February 2nd, led by Tere Marichal, a study group member and storyteller. She integrated each of the 13 guiding principles with a book written by Pura Belpré. Marichal said, “Pura Belpré is one of the most important people who collected our African stories from Puerto Rico.”

On Monday, Dr. Rafael Aragunde, former Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education and faculty member at Interamerican University, hosted a guided student-and-faculty discussion about racism and the story “En el Fondo del Caño Hay Un Negrito” by José Luis González. Margarita Marichal, study group coordinator and teacher education program director, said, “The exchanges between students and faculty were extraordinary. Our study group is transforming perspective, paradigms, conversations, and attitudes.”

On Tuesday, Tere told the Afro Caribbean story “El Tigre y La Liebre” utilizing the Kamishibai technique. She said, “I explained how you can draw and tell the Puerto Rico African stories so children can learn them. The majority of people in my country don’t know the stories.” Marichal said the stories contain themes of revolution, dance, poverty, politics, and environmental justice.

On Wednesday, for the final event, the Puerto Rican Matter(s) study group hosted a conversation about the Puerto Rican perspective and identity for educator colleagues.