Silent March and Take-a-Knee Protest
Information for the 2018 NCTE Annual Convention in Houston, Texas, November 15–18, will be posted soon. All content below is from the 2017 Annual Convention.
As part of NCTE’s meeting in St. Louis, the Local Engagement Committee has organized a Silent March and Take-a-Knee protest to address issues that affect teachers and students both locally and nationwide.The protest will take place on Saturday, November 18, at Baer Park between North Broadway and 4th St. at around 4:30 p.m. The march will commence at 4:00 p.m. at Room 100 of America’s Center Convention Complex, 701 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, Missouri. You must have a convention badge to enter the Convention Complex. The plan is to march silently once around Baer Park, culminating with all marchers taking a knee.
The Local Engagement Committee of the National Council of Teachers of English
We, the members of the Local Engagement Committee (LEC) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), urge the elected leaders of the state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis to support citizens’ rights to seek legal remedies to address discriminatory practices in schools and colleges. As employees in public and private institutions of learning, we expect a workplace free of prejudicial, racist, sexist, and homophobic harassment and other exclusionary practices. As educators, parents, and concerned Americans, we support curricula that teach social justice and protect our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As part of our meeting here in St. Louis, we have organized a Silent March and Take-a-Knee protest. The protest will take place on Saturday, November 18, at Baer Park between North Broadway and 4th St. at around 4:30 p.m. The march will commence at 4:00 p.m. at Room 100 of America’s Center Convention Complex, 701 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, Missouri. You must be credentialed to enter the Convention Complex. The plan is to march silently once around Baer Park, culminating with all marchers taking a knee.
The Silent March commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade in which over 8,000 Blacks marched silently down New York’s 5th Avenue in 1917 to protest race riots in East St. Louis that resulted in the deaths of 40 African Americans. The Take-a-Knee protest is in solidarity with similar protests that originated in the National Football League to protest the increasing frequency of police killings of unarmed Black men. The Take-a-Knee demonstrations by groups and individuals appeal for justice and an end to police brutality and violence.
We, along with other attendees of the 2017 NCTE Annual Convention and members of organizations and schools from the St. Louis area, march and take a knee in support of the following:
- workplaces free of prejudicial, racist, sexist, and homophobic harassment and other exclusionary practices;
- citizens’ rights to seek legal remedies to address discriminatory practices in schools and colleges;
- all efforts to repeal SB 43, which hinders citizens’ rights to seek legal remedies to address discriminatory practices in schools, colleges, universities, and other places of employment across the state;
- curricula that teach social justice and protect our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
- freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for all people for all time;
- all people who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against, or otherwise marginalized by systemic and institutionalized forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other exclusionary practices.
Each of these items that we support is grounded in official statements of the Council that have been created and approved by our membership. Here are examples of these statements which may serve as resources for those interested in continuing to raise awareness about these issues both in St. Louis and in their own home communities beyond the Convention.
From the Resolution on Diversity (November 1999):
- Affirm, seek, and encourage all teachers to include a diversity of perspectives, cultures, aesthetic responses, and experiences in the teaching and learning of English language arts;
- Take proactive measures to enable its members, the larger profession of English language arts teachers, and community and political leaders to resist racism, sexism, homophobia, Eurocentrism, the privileging of English, economic injustice, and other forms of domination;
- Proactively re-examine the relation of dominant forms of language, knowledge, and culture to the democratization of expression, articulation, and access;
- Seek broad integral participation by the Council’s assemblies, committees, and caucuses which are charged with questioning dominant forms of language, knowledge, and culture and with producing new kinds of thinking about difference; and
- Promote conversations with a broad range of groups and constituencies about the values of difference for a democracy.
This resolution is buttressed by a number of statements outlined in Counteracting Racism and Racial Bias to Support Teaching and Learning. The most relevant statement is the NCTE Statement Affirming #BlackLivesMatter issued in September 2015:
“Recognition of structures of racial hatred sits at the center of our conviction as an organization. This statement seeks to affirm what should be obvious: Black lives matter. As an educational organization committed to equity and educational justice, promoting literacy and human life, we take seriously our obligation to ensure racial justice. Therefore we remain resolute in our mission to use and produce knowledge that is essential to eliminating racism in the US and beyond.”
Other statements in support of NCTE’s commitment to social justice and combating racism and discrimination include the Statement about the Role of Early Childhood Education and Racism (July 2015) and the Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning (April 19, 2007).
NCTE also addressed its own organization in Summary of NCTE Policies to Promote Diversity and Inclusion within the Council (July 2016).
With regard to workplace harassment and discrimination, CCCC issued its Position Statement on CCCC Standards for Ethical Conduct Regarding Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Hostile Environments in November 2016.
NCTE is committed to teaching social justice and addressing the issue of discrimination and marginalization as evidenced by the following resolutions and statements:
“Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English support efforts by educators to teach about social injustice and discrimination in all its forms with regard to differences in race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender expression, age, appearance, ability, national origin, language, spiritual belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, and environment.”
Since the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP) is an injurious yet growing system of institutional inequity that funnels young people who are cognitively atypical or have endured histories of poverty, abuse, neglect, and/or trauma from schools to prisons, be it therefore resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English
- partner with local and national STPP advocacy groups and other professional literacy organizations to bring awareness of this crisis to a broader audience, including community leaders and policymakers;
- strengthen the knowledge base of teacher educators, teachers, counselors, and administrators regarding the relationships among mass incarceration and school curricula, practices, and policies;
- encourage the development and dissemination of restorative and culturally sustaining pedagogical tools (e.g., research, classroom teaching strategies, and assessments) that help dismantle STPP; and
- identify and disseminate research that supports proactive inclusion of literacy in social justice work.
Resolution on Confronting Bullying and Harassment (November 2011)
Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English urge
- all teachers to cultivate classrooms that are safe environments where students can learn free from fear;
- teacher educators to provide professional development opportunities that help teachers foster a respectful, empathetic, and socially just classroom, thereby enabling all students to reach their full potential; and
- continued advocacy for teachers who integrate prevention measures into their curriculum, often at significant personal and professional risk.
“Respect the dignity of and advocate for the equitable schooling of undocumented youth, including those who cross borders alone and/or are unjustly apprehended and temporarily held.”
While the following issues do not currently have direct connections to existing NCTE statements approved by the membership at large, we are also marching in support of
- the NAACP travel ban that warns Blacks and other people of color about the racial hazards of travel in Missouri.
- anti-bias training of police, district attorneys, and judges across Missouri.
- the unconditional renewal of DACA and the protection it affords the Dreamers.