Class is in session, and black men are leading the way.

This month in Philadelphia, a historic gathering of black male educators and allies, took place to call for a revolutionary change in public education.

The lack of Black male educators in our school systems has reached significant lows, with a growing population of students of color, taught by an increasingly white female teacher workforce.

According to APMReports, ”only 2 percent of teachers in American public schools are Black men.” Research has repeatedly shown that having just one black educator, can increase a student’s chances of graduating.

This need is why The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice formed to create a pipeline of new black male educators in classrooms while supporting those already in the classroom.

It’s is a professional membership and activist organization dedicated to advancing the recruitment, development, and retention of Black male educators in schools throughout Greater Philadelphia.

The program held its second national Black male educators convening with a focus on advancing policy solutions, learning from one other black educators and fighting for social justice during the weekend of October 12th.

The event drew a diverse and young crowd, with headliners like Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Chris Emdin, former Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and activist Brittany Packnett.  The event was hosted by on-air talent Gia Peppers and theGrio’s own Natasha S. Alford, drawing attendees from 35+ states, across the United States.

“We’re so ridiculously appreciative of everyone who helped to put this event together,“ says Vincent Cobb II, The Fellowship BMEC CEO. “But even more grateful of the Black male educators, students, and allies that showed up in droves… to support our ongoing mission to increase the number of Black male educators nationwide.”

This was the group’s second national conference and in 2018 they more than doubled their attendee numbers.

“This time last year, we only had a little over 300 registered in advance. This year? More than 900 people were registered and more than 1,000 actually attended,” says Rashiid Coleman,  The Fellowship BMEC CCO.

“To feel that much love and support under one roof and be inspired by such powerful orators like Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and Dr. Chris Emdin, we couldn’t have asked for more.”

The Fellowship’s panel discussions and workshops highlighted everything from best practices in the classroom to the “invisible tax” black male teachers are often experienced in schools, as they’re often tasked with managing discipline.

Dr. Chris Emdin, New York Times best-selling author of “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too,” brought down the house with a powerful keynote address, which really was more of a sermon that earned him a standing ovation, shared the significance of black men coming together to create change.

“[It’s] something magical about having aspiring educators of color, young men of color, teacher educators all coming together with this wonderful spirit and energy around doing this work differently.”

“I came here to share some words but I left here changed. Not because of the words that were shared but really about the emotion and the magic and the acknowledgment in the eyes of each other,” says Dr. Emdin.  

“Whenever brothers can come together with a  space of vulnerability about doing things differently, magic ensues and this is an exemplar of that and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

For more information on the National Black Male Educators Convening Conference and supporting black men in the teaching professions, check out the official site: https://www.nationalbmec.com/