The collective wants to unify and empower educators of color in the Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia communities.
MEC’s origins go back to the development of The Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee. This committee was created by a few core members of WE in 2016. The first goal was to write the Racial Justice Statement. However, after being inspired by a Black Lives Matter Action in Seattle, Washington, the Racial Justice Committee began to organize a Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Philadelphia centered on the 13 guiding principles in 2017. This included the development of curriculum for K-higher Ed, community events, and solidarity within schools to support what Black Lives Matter means in Philadelphia. The following year the action grew to include 20 other cities including Seattle. This year included three national and local demands for the National Black Lives Matter Week of Action. They are the following: End of Zero tolerance and focus on restorative justice practices, Hire and retain more Black teachers, and Anti-racist training for all Educators. And this year the National Education Association recognized Black Lives Matter in Schools at their national convention. The goal is to make each of these demands a win in our prospective school districts with allies and community partnerships.
From the racial justice statement to now, with the development of MEC (Melanated Educators of Color) and BAR-WE (Building Anti-Racist White Educators). All three groups expand the narrative and the work needed to achieve Racial and Social Justice in our schools and community.
Some of the events that were developed as a result of this work are “The Walkout: 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Student Protests”, Teach Us All Screenings and Talkback, Lack of Black Educators Panel at CCP, trips to see I Am Not Your Negro and the Screening of Get Out.
As the groundwork was being developed and partnerships identified, a core group (bios included below) began to discuss ways to deepen this work while focusing on educators, parents, and students of color. These members recognized a need for support and professional development that centers around teachers and students of color. Currently in Philadelphia, the district does not share the racial data of teachers. Making the problem more difficult to correct in a sustainable manner. Black teachers are leaving the Education field in droves. This spells disaster for public school students who increasingly are children of color and studies prove that when students have teachers who look like them they are more successful.
Understanding this problem, these teachers and parents, all public school educators and/or parents of color began to meet & discuss how to move the needle forward in terms of demanding recruitment for Educators of Color, Retaining Educators of Color, as well as creating conditions in schools that will facilitate learning for children of color and all children in the Philadelphia area and beyond.
From these first meetings, Melanated Educators Collective was formed. In addition to the above goals, MEC has developed Anti-Racist training materials for professional development to address racial bias in the classroom and school environment.
Tamara Anderson is an advocate for children and teens, educator, professional artist and a prolific writer. As a parent of a child who attends a Philadelphia public school, she believes that parents and teachers are partners in the fight for public education. Her educational experience spans over 20 years and includes, Chicago Public Schools, New York Board of Education, School District of Philadelphia, Harcum College and University of Phoenix. She holds teaching certificates in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
She has been on the steering committee of the Caucus of Working Educators since its inception and is one of the co-founders of the Racial Justice Committee. Additionally, she was also one of the core organizers for the initial Black Lives Matter Week of Action. She’s also been active in UCORE, a board member of Philadelphia Student Union, and a parent member of Opt Out Philly. Her articles can be found in Labor Notes, Examiner and Chestnut Hill Local. She provided the foreword for the Workplace Journal for Academic Labor No. 26. She serves as a panelists and speaker about racial justice and its intersection with labor unions along with topics covering black feminism and the silencing of Black female voices.
Clarice Brazas holds an Ed.S. in Instructional Technology from the University of West Georgia. She is in her twelfth year of teaching and is always looking for ways to improve her craft. The first three years of her career were spent working with students who had emotional and behavioral needs, which early on gave her the desire to educate students in a holistic and engaging way. Currently, Clarice teaches Humanities at The U School, an open admission, learner-centered school in the School District of Philadelphia.
After moving to Philadelphia from Atlanta in 2017, she was introduced to The Caucus of Working Educators (WE) and immediately joined the Racial Justice committee to help with the work leading up to Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Since then, she has been active with the Melanated Educators Collective and become a regional organizer with WE. Clarice is a member of the Philadelphia Federation of teachers and is on the Building Committe at her school. Outside of this work, she enjoys reading, yoga, travel, and spending time with friends and family.
Passionate Educator, Dana A. Carter is a native of Philadelphia, PA. With over 17 years’ experience in local as well as international education, Ms. Carter is dedicated to eliminating the school to prison pipeline by being an advocate for urban learners.
Ms. Carter graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and then obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Delaware State University. While working as a Literacy Intern Teacher with the School District of Philadelphia in 2001, Ms. Carter developed a love for Urban Education. She received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Pennsylvania Level 1 Certification from Arcadia University in 2007. Ms. Carter successfully converted her Level 1 Certification to a PA Level 2 Certification in 2016.
Ms. Carter’s love for urban learners did not end when she decided to move to the United Arab Emirates in 2013 to teach English for the Abu Dhabi Education Council for two years. She felt dedicated to her community in Philadelphia, so she returned with twice as much passion as she had before and she is now a Math Teacher with the School District of Philadelphia and a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. A single resident of Delaware County, PA, Ms. Carter is a lover of the history of the African American Experience and incorporates that topic into her daily teaching.
Ms. Carter enjoys live music, beach sunsets, traveling, natural hair and skincare workshops, and weekend brunches. She has no children and spends her free time reading, writing, studying Spanish and Arabic, and figuring out ways to save the world, one school at a time. Ms. Carter currently works at Julia de Burgos Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Angela Crawford has been an educator for 21 years, and affiliated with the School District of Philadelphia for 17; she is on the Building Committee and is an active member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Mrs. Crawford’s work with School District of Philadelphia began in 1997 as a "Teacher Leader Facilitator" and English Teacher. She currently teaches English through a Social Justice lens at Martin Luther King High School. Angela is an active member in the Caucus of Working Educators (WE). She is an organizer of racial and social justice education. She has organized Black Lives Matter events with the Caucus of Working Educators. Angela has facilitated and presented on topics such a “Colorism” and Education for Liberation.
Angela also educates outside of traditional academic arenas. She is a practitioner and holistic healer. She is a certified Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer, and Energy Life Coach. Angela is a strong advocate for holistic health and wellness; she inspires and partners with path seekers to resolve pressing issues and challenges, which divert clients from their journey. Her professional interest focuses on educating the community concerning preventative measures to enhance their health. As a lifelong learner, and educator of twenty one years, Angela, an advocate for knowledge, shares with others to empower them.
Herman Douglas, is a middle school reading and writing teacher at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School within the School District of Philadelphia. He loves teaching and has been educating children for over 20 years. Herman is the building representative at his school and an active member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Herman’s fundamental purpose is to promote student achievement among black and brown children. His instructional practices are based in data driven instruction, social justice and culturally responsive teaching. Ultimately, Mr. Douglas goal is to recruit, train and retain melanated educators to transform urban education. Herman received his bachelor of education from West Chester University and currently is writing his dissertation on the impact of blended learning within large urban schools.
Ismael Jimenez is a dedicated educator, who for the last thirteen years has worked with students in Philadelphia from preschool age to high school. After working as a secondary social studies teacher at Germantown High School until it was closed, Ismael then was appointed to Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School.
Along with being an active PFT member and a member of the KCAPA building committee, Ismael has facilitated several professional developments with colleagues in the school district and at postsecondary institutions like University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University and Princeton University on issues ranging from structural racism to bridging the knowledge gap of students between high school and postsecondary institutions. Currently, Ismael is co-chair of the Caucus of Working Educators and co-founder of the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative.
In addition, Ismael is an active participant in several other organizations that seek racial justice in education such as Black Lives Matter Philly.
The philosophical orientation that guides Ismael’s teaching and activism is rooted in the theoretical educational framework developed by Paulo Freire which emphasizes the interconnected nature of education with participating in the transformation of the world.
Keziah Ridgeway is a Philadelphia area educator, activist, wife, and mother. She’s also a published writer with articles appearing in Sister's Magazine and on Common Ground News. Keziah obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a major in History, particularly, of non-western countries from Temple University. After Temple, she completed a Master's of Education with a focus on secondary education from Saint Joseph's University while being a wife and mother to four children. Currently, she teaches African American History at one of the most diverse and largest schools in Philadelphia, Northeast High School. She is a member of the Building Committee at NEHS and an active member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Keziah writes for her blog, on issues pertaining to education, community, racism, religion, and history.
If she’s not teaching, writing, spending time with her family, or reading, you can find her working with fellow educators in the Caucus of Working Educators and its Social Justice Committee. In addition, she also works with fellow colleagues in the Melanated Educators Collective, an offshoot of WE’s Social Justice Committee. Keziah particularly enjoys facilitating discussion groups and panels around Islamophobia, Black Muslim History, Black History, Educators of Color, and Racism that are aimed at creating a safe and equitable environment within education and society.
Peggy Savage is a veteran teacher of the Philadelphia School District. She has spent almost 38 years working as a female African American educator. Peggy is an advocate for equity, racial, age and gender justice and continues to champion for students, parents, and educators as a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teacher's Caucus of Working Educators. Peggy has served on the Steering Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators.
Peggy received her undergraduate degree from Mansfield State College and received her masters in Bilingual/BiCultural Caribbean Studies - Spanish from LaSalle University. Peggy is an equity and STEM/STEAM advocate for girls in grades 7th through 12th. She runs workshops in out of school spaces so young ladies can tinker, create and discover. She’s facilitated workshops in the last four years and has inspired over 350 girls. The out-of school workshops are appropriately named, Girls on Fire of Philadelphia! In addition, she also also serves as the lead Science & Math judge for the N.A.A.C.P-A.C.T.-S.O Competition. She’s served as a volunteer for about eighteen years now. She has mentored many high school students in the STEM/STEAM fields for the George Washington Carver Fair and for the A.C.T -S.O competition. Peggy is also a T.I.P Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. She has written curriculum units for Data Visualization and AstroBiology.
This past summer Peggy participated in a Science Immersion Program ( ISP) at the Fox Chase Cancer Center ( FCCC). There she studied with scientists and teacher researchers . The genetic research involved looking at the abdomen of the Drosophila Fly and Pancreatic cancer. Peggy also serves as a Philadelphia Writing Project Teacher Consultant (TC). She has been a TC since 2007. On October 6, 2018 Peggy will serve on a forum to discuss her T.I.P curriculum unit with current fellows from her T.I.P class .