Blog

Race & Healing: A Community Conversation (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our three-part blog series on Race & Healing: A Community Conversation. The special Town Hall event kicked off Atlanta’s citywide Race2Read Challenge which encourages students and their families to read 20 minutes a day to reach the goal of 10-million minutes for the 2020-2021 school year.

Below, we captured some of the valuable insights from the educators who served on the panel, including Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring and Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Morcease J. Beasley. Responding to questions from area students, Dr. Herring and Dr. Beasley passionately delved into the significant role literacy plays in addressing racism and in providing parents, teachers and students a guidepost for tackling difficult issues.

You can view the thought-provoking Town Hall in its entirety here.

As the new APS superintendent and a Georgia native, Dr. Herring has hit the ground running in her role, especially with the pandemic shedding some light on “student issues that have always been there, like the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

Dr. Herring was more than ready for some hard-hitting questions, like the one from fifth-grader Gilliam Duckett of Charles R. Drew Charter School, who asked, “What role does literacy play in addressing racism in our community?”

“It is the foundation that frees all of us. Literacy is what empowers us not only to be learners but to be leaders. It’s the basic foundation for freeing your mind, freeing your ability to think and giving you voice.

Giving you the words to stand tall, giving you the words to lead. Whether you are male or female, it all starts with the ability not just to think it, but to say it and compare it. That’s important.

In its most basic definition, literacy empowers us to be readers.”

Since 2017, Dr. Beasley has served as Superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools and has been at the helm of the fifth-largest school system in Georgia, located south of metro Atlanta. Second-grader De’Asyia O’Hara of Kay Pace School of the Arts had the opportunity to ask Dr. Beasley, “What are some ways we can talk about racism in the classroom?”

“I think we first should be intentional and understand the issue. We all have to read great books, like those from the authors we have already heard from tonight.

As educators, we should plan for good instruction, great conversations and great discussions.

And all students need to be engaged and participate and share very honestly in a very safe space.”

Race & Healing: A Community Conversation is moderated by CBS46 Anchor Shon Gables and hosted by Alston & Bird LLP, Atlanta Public Schools, CBS46, Page Turners Make Great Learners, the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and UPS.

To hear about more ways to discuss racial inequities with students and how literacy plays a significant role in the conversation, watch Race & Healing: A Community Conversation.

To learn more about the Atlanta Public Schools Race2Read challenge, in partnership with Urban League of Greater Atlanta, and to start logging your leisure reading minutes today, visit Race2Read.org.