• Free The Children of Kiarre Harris
    In November of 2016, Kiarre Harris, an African-American single mother, chose to homeschool her children and remove them from a failing school in Buffalo, New York. Ms. Harris properly withdrew her children from the public school and fully complied with NYS regulations regarding homeschooling. The Buffalo Public Schools District notified Child Protective Services that the children were not attending school. Without the knowledge or notice to Ms. Harris, Child Protective Services secured a removal order from a Family Court Judge---based on educational neglect. When police first notified Ms. Harris of the removal order (which they did not provide a copy of), Ms. Harris refused to turn her children over to the police. She was arrested for obstruction. Two days later, on January 18, 2017 the children of Ms. Harris were taken away from her and placed into foster care. An ongoing Family Court has now been triggered and Ms. Harris has been granted only limited supervised visitation of her two children. This entire incident began with Ms. Harris' decision to homeschool her children and the Buffalo School District calling Child Protective Services with baseless allegations of educational neglect. Jailing a mother who has complied with the law; taking her children away, and subjecting the family to ongoing legal proceedings can not be allowed to happen. This sends a chilling message to parents who choose to fight for the betterment of their children's education. We need to make it clear: the policies and practices of the Erie County unit of Child Protective Services are racially discriminatory and adversely impact parents of poor and minority children. Kiarre Harris should be admired for doing all in her power to make sure her children have the best education possible. #KiarraHarris #HandsOffHarrisChildren
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  • Protect HBCUs from Biased Policing & Surveillance
    The president of Shaw University has requested a police substation right on the campus of an HBCU under the guise of "public safety." This sets a dangerous precedent for schools, HBCUs, public or private, in Raleigh and beyond. Raleigh Police Department (RPD) disproportionately stop, search, and arrest youth of color for minor infractions. • National studies show that black and white populations use marijuana at about the same rates; yet in Wake County where RPD is the largest law-enforcement agency, black people represent 67% of low-level marijuana arrests but only 21% of the population. • From 2010-2015, black drivers were 2.7 times more likely to be searched by police following a traffic stop but 10% less likely to have contraband. • From 2002-2013, black men under age of 30 were searched at a rate of about 7%, whereas white men were searched at a rate of 4%. As men of color age, the likelihood of being searched significantly decreases. Increased presence of police on campus will not make students safer or improve-police community relations but increase tensions and once again create a pipeline to the criminal justice system. "The university should spend less time trying to monitor student behavior and more time investing in the school," said James Crawford a Shaw Junior from Fayetteville quoted in a January 22nd article of the News & Observer. What Raleigh needs is increased investment in black futures: education, counselors, mental health services, jobs programs, affordable housing, and beyond. For black youth, more interactions with police doesn't mean increased public safety.
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  • Justice for Oakland Students: Hire Local, Long-term Superintendent
    Please join us in this effort by: 1) Signing this petition and 2) Sharing this link with the hashtags: #newoaklandsuperintendent #justice4oaklandstudents #J4OS The revolving door of Superintendents in OUSD has resulted in the majority of African American, Latino and other under-served students failing to get the supports they need to thrive. We can’t afford more of the same – we need a new kind of Superintendent (non-Broad trained) who will turn this district around so all of our students graduate college and career ready. It is critical our next leader has the courage to take a stand against the anti-Black, anti-immigrant political climate fostered in by Trump and “the Right”. We need a leader who will work to end the criminalization and displacement of low-income, working class youth of color and their families in Oakland. We need a leader who understands that power, resources, support and decision-making – when put in the hands of those most impacted at the school sites – results in better outcomes for students. Our Board of Education needs to know our community is stepping forward to hold them accountable for: 1) Engaging the community in the hiring process: Establish a Board committee with the responsibility to engage all stakeholders (students, parents/families, educators) in defining Superintendent hiring criteria and in the interview process. 2) Selecting a new permanent Superintendent who: • Will bring a vision and system-wide plan for real results for African-American, Latino, and all High-Need students, based on the priorities set by students and families. • Will ensure budget equity by prioritizing direct funding to schools, not in high salaries in Central office. • Is committed to principles of: social justice, meaningful engagement of students and parents, and democratic decision-making and shared governance. • Will end the proliferation of charter schools, provide more oversight of existing charter schools and reinvest in making all in-district schools excellent. • Believes schools are part of community transformation and will work towards transforming OUSD as a quality full-service community school district. • Will retain and support teachers by: Increasing pay, training and diversity. • Will end criminalization of youth by: Divesting from the school police budget and reinvesting in Restorative Justice and real school safety. • Is local (deeply knows and loves Oakland) and will stay long-term (at least 5 to 10 years). • Has a demonstrated track record of improving student outcomes in OUSD and is able to work effectively with the Oakland Board of Education and all stakeholders. We have an urgent need to get this on everyone’s radar. You can do this by: • Signing this petition to make your voice heard now and get updates • Share this information with others! Repost the infographic and petition to your facebook page • Email and call board members to demand accountability to this vision • Mobilize to Board meetings and community forums – to ensure we get the right leader for our district! The Justice for Oakland Students Coalition: Is a group of deeply concerned students, parents/families, educators, and community organizations - including Oakland Kids First, Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), Black Organizing Project (BOP), Parents United for Public Education, and other groups – who came together to demand a new Superintendent that will ensure Black, Brown, and all High-Need students in OUSD get the high-quality education they deserve. http://tinyurl.com/hmvb2gk
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  • Demand NY Governor Cuomo End Systemic Racism in School Funding
    We’ve seen atrocious cases of Islamophobia, racism, sexism, and xenophobia and the attempt to normalize these behaviors. This can be traumatic to communities of color, women, religious groups, and immigrant communities. The vulnerability of our children has been heightened by the looming threat of what a Trump presidency might mean for them, their families, and their futures. We are prepared for battle on the federal level, but we still face a significant debt owed to our children in New York State. For over a decade, our schools have been waiting for New York State to honor its obligation to comply with an order from its highest court, the Court of Appeals, to fully fund the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE). The ruling established that New York State was underfunding its schools, especially in black, Latino and low-income communities. With Trump threatening to strip resources from our students, Governor Cuomo needs to finally comply with the court’s decision and fully phase in the remaining $4.3 billion owed to our public schools. From cutting taxes on millionaires to attempting to privatize education, the parallels between Trump’s agenda and some of Governor Cuomo’s policies are obvious. It is time that the Governor stands up for the children of New York and fully rejects Trump’s agenda against our most vulnerable communities. To do so he must fulfill his responsibility to finally deliver the “sound, basic education” required by the State constitution by providing the $4.3 billion needed for classroom resources, art and music, guidance counselors, social workers, student supports and more. Help us in demanding that Governor Cuomo fulfill his promise to stand up for all communities. Demand that he take the necessary steps to provide the resources to ensure safe and supportive schools for all students by fully funding the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, AD 42, Brooklyn. Assemblymember Maritza Davila, AD 53 Brooklyn Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman, AD 29 Queens Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre, AD 11 Long Island Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, AD 77 Bronx Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, AD 65 Manhattan Assemblymember Nily Rozic, AD 25 Queens Assemblymember Latrice Walker, AD 55 Brooklyn Senator Marisol Alcantara, SD 31 Manhattan Assemblymember Diana Richardson, AD 43, Brooklyn Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa, AD 72, Manhattan Assemblymember Inez Dickens, AD 70, Manhattan Assemblymember Earlene Hooper, AD 18, Long Island Assemblymember Pamela Harris, AD 46 Brooklyn
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  • Oregon: Fund Education not Executions!
    Oregon is spending millions of dollars on a death penalty system disproportionately invoked against Black people. While Black people only make up 2% of Oregon’s population they make up 9% of the population housed on Death Row. While spending millions of dollars to disproportionately imprison Black people, Governor Brown recently announced a state budget which could increase taxes and cuts services to the same communities who face this unfair criminal justice system. Instead of causing further damage to these communities by cutting vital services, Governor Brown should effectively end the use of the death penalty, save Oregon millions of dollars, and end an unjust practice that disproportionately targets the Black community.
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  • Tell Ohio Senate: No More Pre-K Suspensions
    I am a parent of two Black children. In schools across America, Black children account for 18 percent of preschool enrollment but almost half (48 percent) of children suspended more than once in a school year. My son was one of these students. My son was expelled from school at age of 5 years old, as a pre-schooler, his very first year of school. From the beginning, children are being taught that they deserve the harsh and punitive treatment that first experience in the classroom and will soon confront in the world. We are here to say that Black children matter. For the first time, the state of Ohio has an opportunity to be a leader in changing these policies by passing HB 410 with amendments that would begin making it possible for parents like me to finally have a say in what happens to their children. Several other states are leading the way in banning the suspension and expulsion of students in early grades. From New Jersey to Oregon, states have eliminated suspensions for pre-schoolers and students up to 5th grade. We know that even this is not enough to mitigating the negative impact on children as young as 4 years old. In addition to Amendment 2629 to end pre-school suspensions, we support provisions in HB 410 that prohibit the use of suspensions and expulsions for truancy as well as the following: Amendment 2630 – Tiered discipline: Students should not be suspended for issues that could be easily resolved with a phone call home. Amendment 2639 – Make up work: It goes without saying that suspensions cause students to get behind on work. Education is a human right. No students should be denied classroom instruction because of racist disciplinary policies. Amendment 2605X4 – Tolling of suspensions during the summer: Students who were suspended at the end of the school year should be able to start the new school year with a fresh start. Rather than applying remaining days suspended to the new school year, students will be allowed to participate in community service over the summer instead. We urge you to include language in this amendment stating that participation in any community service or alternative consequence will not require families to incur additional costs, such as transportation costs. The same year my child was suspended, Kylen English, a 20-year-old lost his life while in custody of Dayton police. He was handcuffed in the back of a police car the last time he was seen alive. Within a few months, we started Racial Justice NOW! because we knew that unless we built real political power for Black students and families to change the written and unwritten rules, our lives would continue to be at stake. It will be 5 years this November that I co-founded and became Executive Director of Racial Justice NOW! I also serve as Co-Chair of the Dignity In Schools Campaign, a coalition of over 100 organizations from 27 states dedicated to dismantling the school to prison pipeline. And while we have made strides towards dismantling the school to prison pipeline, the rate at which change is happening is killing our children. My hope is that in this political moment, even more people will join the fight to fight for the futures of Black children. The fight for Black children is the fight for the future.
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  • Stand up for students protesting racial injustice
    I am a proud Pirate. My professors at East Carolina University challenged me to think critically about the world and helped me feel like I could have a real impact. It was at ECU where I learned that my voice is powerful. ECU is why I have a successful and fulfilling career at the intersection of politics, activism, and social change. Usually, I represent Pirate Nation with pride, but right now, I am disappointed in my alma mater’s decision to crack down on protests from the university’s marching band. Last Saturday, several members of the band took a knee during the Star’s Bangled Banner in peaceful demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice. As a former student activist at ECU, I couldn’t have been more proud to see these young people carrying on the tradition of peaceful protest at my alma mater. These young people are carrying on the proud legacy of agitating for social change on ECU’s campus.  In 1969, Black students were fed up with a hostile racial climate on campus and had a tense confrontation with then President Leo Jenkins. These brave students successfully got the university to stop playing Dixie and waving Confederate flags at games and to hire more Black faculty in the name of campus integration. No one would disagree that these brave people standing up for what they believe in made the university a better place. Today as students around the country are ridiculed or worse for speaking up on issues they are care about, we need to show our them that we support their right to protest.  When I read ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton’s statement on the protest, I was elated because it underscored the power of civil discourse and the importance of believing in something bigger than yourself, two values I learned during my time at East Carolina:  “While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today’s football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other’s views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed.” Sadly, this feeling only lasted a day because ECU Chancellor Staton reversed his decision saying that further protests “would not be tolerated:” “College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities. While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward.” To make matters worse, it seems that the racial climate on campus has gone from simmering to a rapid boil. Many students felt threatened when a professor responded by promising to carry a gun around campus to demonstrate her Second Amendment rights, seemingly forgetting that doing so is against the law. A racial slur was found written in the library. In a climate where racial tensions are escalating, trying to muzzle students who are clearly trying to start a dialogue on the issue is not the right move. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. As a Black woman, I’ve felt the sting of racial injustice on campus at ECU. I’ll never forget the night a pack of drunk guys shouted a racial slur at me out of a moving car. That night, as hot tears stained my face, I made a silent promise to myself that I’d never live in the South after graduation; I just couldn’t take it anymore. What’s worse is that nothing has changed; knowing that students are still having to putting up with this same racial animosity on campus that I did ten years earlier feels like a knife in the heart.  This is the wrong message to be sending to Pirate Nation. These students have a Constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. This freedom doesn’t end when students put on their uniform. If it wasn’t for my time engaging in activism during my time at East Carolina, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Chancellor Staton should give these students that same opportunity.
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  • Education Justice is Racial Justice
    The United States promises our children equal access to a free public elementary and high school education. But too many Black and Brown children have been denied schools good enough to make this promise meaningful. Instead of honestly acknowledging the root causes of struggling schools and investing in real equity in public education, today’s policymakers and deep-pocketed corporate education “reformers” offer misguided strategies that fail to address the central problem: a failure to invest in Black, Brown and poor children, the educators who teach them and the communities in which they live. This is a crisis in values, in what we believe and who we believe in. It is a crisis of civil rights — and of human rights.
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  • FCC: Keep Black and Brown Media on the Airwaves
    Right now, media ownership by people of color is on the brink of extinction. Howard University Television, the nation’s first and only Black-owned public TV station, which has broadcast for more than 30 years, is auctioning off their airwaves. Of more than 1,500 full-powered television stations, only 42 remain under Latino ownership and 7 under African American ownership. If the FCC does not immediately act to improve diversity on the airwaves, a federal court has threatened to make the current media ownership limits--that create an opening for people of color--a thing of the past. We need the FCC to take a hard look at how they can inform the public in a way that allows us to protect the outlets that have kept our voices in the conversation. People of color cannot afford to lose any more of the platforms we speak from at such a critical moment in our national conversation -- we must act now to tell the Federal Communications Commission to support current and future media owners of color. I am a Howard University PhD Candidate working together with Howard Media Group, a team of faculty and graduate students from Howard University’s School of Communications, because of our shared believe that scholarship and education have a role to play in shaping communications policy to better serve the public interest. It is critically important that the FCC continue to limit corporate control of our airwaves, which has crowded out diverse owners who are forced to compete with huge companies for programming and advertising revenue. We also need a better understanding of the challenges of the historic barriers that continue to disadvantage Black and Brown media, so that we can dismantle them. Given that the FCC has failed to provide timely data and analysis for several years, the public still lacks a meaningful opportunity to weigh in and ensure we can reach millions of households with diverse programming not hosted by other majority-owned stations. The FCC has an opportunity to stand with media owners of color to increase viewpoint diversity on the air--enforcing strong rules against media consolidation and providing timely information on why broadcast ownership remains so often out of reach for our community—and they must use it now before more of our platforms disappear. For more information, please visit: http://nhmc.org/blog/join-us-tell-fcc-support-current-future-media-owners-color/
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  • Tell Dayton City Commission to End Censorship and AntI-Blackness!
    John Crawford was 22 years old when he was shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio when a white customer called 911 on him while in the store. He was holding a toy gun. In Cleveland, Tamir Rice was murdered by police after a neighbor called 911 on him for holding what was “probably a fake gun.” He was only 12 years old. Ohio grand juries declined to indict both of the cops responsible for stealing the young and innocent lives of John and Tamir. And just weeks ago, 35-year-old Kiesha Arrone was shot 15 times by Dayton police because she was seen as a “threat.” This was only months after she was married to her partner in a ceremony that was officiated by Mayor Whaley. No justice has been served. This is what the 9th grade students from the STEM school powerfully uplifted in their artwork, only to be censored by the City. The City’s removal of the student’s artwork from the Dayton Convention Center after only two days on display because it depicts ‘Black Lives Matter’ and remembers the lives lost by police murder is part of a bigger injustice- the persistent anti-Blackness and continued disinvestment of Black communities in Dayton. Dayton is the fourth most segregated city in the state of Ohio. West Dayton, a Black community, has been disinvested from for decades, with no public health facilities and the total absence of economic development as the city allocates ample resources elsewhere. With the history of injustice against Black people in Dayton, it is no surprise that the city has an issue with publically displaying art that asserts Black Lives Matter in the convention center. The city of Dayton has never taken a stand against the state-sanctioned violence, police murder and police brutality of its Black residents. City officials have never stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice NOW! The city continues to demonstrate that to them, Black lives don’t matter. These students found a creative and productive way to express their frustration and trauma of seeing these killings happen right in their own communities. We will not stand by and let this happen, we demand their artwork be put back on display and the city works with grassroots organizations like Racial Justice NOW to co-create a community dialogue that encourages students and disenfranchised community members to speak up and actively engage in the decisions that directly impact their lives.
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  • Tell the Louisiana House Education Committee to Support House Bill 372
    State laws substantially contribute to the overuse of school suspensions and expulsions in Louisiana, where students can be dismissed for a wide range of minor misbehavior and Black students are far more likely to be penalized. In the 2013-2014 school year, 61,201 students, including students in grades pre-kindergarten through 5, were suspended out-of-school. Under current state laws, minor infractions have resulted in children losing a tremendous amount of instructional time and falling behind in their academic progress. School policies on “willful disobedience” are vaguely defined, arbitrarily enforced as a ground for suspension, and disparately used. Black students are suspended at disproportionally higher rate than their white counterparts. Data shows that “willful disobedience” has been used as the reason for 13,535 suspensions in the 2013-2014 school year that includes 8,000 suspensions of children in grades pre-kindergarten to 5. HB 372 solves the problems of excessive, racially disparate, and arbitrary use of student suspension. While disruptive behavior should be addressed, we need to ensure repercussions are the most beneficial and effective for our children. Alternatives, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, are not only more effective discipline methods, but they also result in higher attendance rates, improved student behavior, higher academic performance, and more positive overall school climate.
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  • STOP UCSF FROM CLOSING NEW GENERATION CLINIC
    We are asking that members of the San Francisco community and people nationwide to stand with us to save the last full-service reproductive health clinic serving poor Black and Latino youth in San Francisco. After 45 years of serving vulnerable youth, on March 1 the University of California San Francisco gave swift & abrupt notice to staff at New Generation Health Clinic that its doors will close in 30 days due to budget cuts. There was no plan to replace the New Generation clinic; instead the “solution” was to redirect the patients to existing hospitals and clinics. The thousands of young people who rely on the clinic's services were not consulted about this plan. Thanks to efforts lead by 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic, concerned educators and parents, and most importantly, directly impacted young people from the city-- as of March 17th, USCF announced that they would delay the closure of the clinic to July 31st. After the 31st, they plan to work with the Department of Public Health to "ensure continuity of care for patients." They refuse to commit to keeping New Generation open, citing its " lack of financial sustainability." Meanwhile, UCSF has publicly announced plans to spend $600 million on building brand new facilities alone in the next 3 years, this plan included the new $240 million complex in Mission Bay-- the neighborhood where New Generation Health Clinic is located. Clearly, a lack of funds is not the issue here. The University of California San Francisco constantly emphasizes their commitment to addressing health disparities and making equity a priority. Now is their chance to stand by their word. New Generation is a safe haven in a city where navigating and accessing the health care system is nearly impossible. For young people who are victims of rape and unwanted pregnancy- San Francisco General Hospital is just not an option. Survivors of rape need a place where they feel safe and where youth are welcomed, not criminalized. If UCSF succeeds in their plans to close New Generation, there will be a much higher price to pay. The message the city of San Francisco and the University of California San Francisco are sending is blatant: money matters, not Black and Brown lives. Please sign and share the petition to help us keep New Generation Health Clinic open. For too many, this is a matter of life or death.
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