UCLA Civil Rights Project Joins in Youth-Led Summit on Racial Equity in Nation’s Schools

CRP director Gary Orfield to deliver keynote with new data on school segregation for Feb. 13 webinar.

Martin Luther King once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

That may be true, but it won’t bend unless people keep pushing it.

Keeping the battle for racial justice alive, the UCLA Civil Rights Project is joining with Teens Take Charge and youth education groups across the country in “Activists x Academics,” a virtual summit on racial equity in the nation’s schools Saturday, February 13.

Bringing together young people with leading writers, scholars and activists, the summit will shine a light on the efforts of young people working to create more integrated, equitable, restorative, and affirming school systems that give students real power in decision making.

Youth presenters include representatives from activist groups across the nation, including Youth on Board (Boston), Tulsa Changemakers, Youth Justice Project (Durham), Rosedale Freedom Project (Mississippi), and many others.

“We greatly admire the work of students struggling for racial justice and integration and are proud to cosponsor this important conference of researchers and activists organized by young people who have a powerful vision for a better society,” said Gary Orfield, co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

New York Times Magazine writer and 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones headlines a list of about a dozen writers and scholars who will moderate panels or deliver short talks throughout the summit. Professor Orfield will open the summit with a keynote address revealing new data on school segregation. Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, will deliver a closing charge. Additional speakers include Cornell professor Noliwe Rooks, activist Jo Ann Allen Boyce of the “Clinton 12,” San Antonio school district innovation officer Mohammed Choudhury, and more. 

“For those who were unaware of the deep inequities that exist in our nation before, the pandemic has further exposed them. This summit will serve to remind us all that there is a bigger team with us fighting for the same end goal,” says Elsabet Franklin, organizer with Teens Take Charge. “It will remind youth activists to continue the fight for the students all over the country who aren’t getting an equal and meaningful education, and it will provide opportunities to learn directly from the youth who are so often ignored and the adults who have committed their lives to similar goals.”

“The Activist x Academics Summit is the perfect way to gather the change-makers, advocates, and leaders that aspire to create unity to come together and inspire each other through examples of their growth, legacy, and adaptation,” added Sahil Bhandari, member of the Colorado Youth Congress. “Unification cannot be done alone, the Activist x Academics Summit is just the first step to a better and united future.”

The Activists x Academics summit takes place on Saturday, Feb. 13, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. EST. All sessions, except for the Lunch Talks, will be “webinar-style” with options to communicate with panelists and ask questions through the chat function.

For important links, complete schedule, headshots and bios of all presenters, and more, visit this link for the official press materials for the event.