On Sunday, December 4th, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stepped onto the grass at SoFi Stadium in style to take on the Los Angeles Rams; instead of his normal white sneakers, coach Carroll sported shoes with a beautiful design that featured images from the Zinn Education Project’s Teaching for Black Lives campaign for the NFL’s annual My Cause, My Cleats initiative. They turned out to be his good-luck shoes: The Seahawks won a close game!
Carroll has supported the Teaching for Black Lives campaign for the past three years, having first learned of it from Seattle-based performer Macklemore.
The core of the innovative Teaching for Black Lives campaign is teacher-led study groups across the United States. The Zinn Education Project provides support through a grassroots effort that teachers can tailor to their school and district. Using the Rethinking Schools book Teaching for Black Lives, teachers explore how to teach about racism, resistance, and joy. They learn new teaching strategies and draw inspiration from one another.
Coach Carroll invited CuS the Artist to design his cleats, featuring Ekua Holmes’s beautiful cover art on the Teaching for Black Lives book, key themes in anti-racist education, and Civil Rights Movement educator Septima Clark. The inside of the shoes has the Teach Truth slogan.
Septima Clark represents the dedication and activism needed to teach honestly today in the face of anti-history education legislation. In the mid-1950s, Clark was fired from her teaching job in Charleston, South Carolina, because she refused to give up her activism and membership in the NAACP. She took her education skills and developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played a key role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. Her mantra was, “Literacy means liberation,” and summed up her teaching philosophy saying,
I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.
Clark led workshops at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, which Rosa Parks participated in just a few months before the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Check out the video of Coach Carroll’s shoes being unboxed.
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In a press conference on Friday, Dec. 2, Carroll noted that there are now 228 Teaching for Black Lives study groups around the United States, with almost 4,000 teachers reaching 650,000 students.
We hope that the cleats will introduce more people to the inspirational role of Septima Clark; the Teaching for Black Lives book and study groups; and the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change).