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Condemning Racism and Bigotry While Using Charlottesville as a Teachable Moment: Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Others

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August 18, 2017 09:12 am


The Alliance for Excellent Education filmed a special edition of Federal Flash that condemns the actions by white supremacists in Charlottesville and urges parents, teachers, and others to talk about Charlottesville in their homes, classrooms, and communities. This blog post includes the video, a transcript of the video, as well as a series of resources that individuals can use to help start conversations about the nation’s dark history with slavery, the dangerous white supremacy movement, and the importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity in America.


Nikki McKinney, Director of Policy Development and Federal Government Relations, Alliance for Excellent Education: 

Last summer, the Alliance filmed a special edition of Federal Flash in response to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge that claimed the lives of eight police officers.

Last weekend’s events in Charlottesville tell us that the nation is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to equity, inclusion, and an appreciation of–and respect for–diversity.

Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and Former Governor of West Virginia:

In a very visible way, the destructiveness of white supremacy was on the march last weekend. And yet 400,000 Americans died in World War II to safeguard the world from the very groups marching with swastikas in Charlottesville.

As our parents and grandparents could not stand silent, more than ever each of us must speak up to refute the hate and violence that some seek to bring to every community.

I am saddened and sickened by the violent, racist, hateful acts committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville. Mince no words, those waving Nazi flags espouse the same ideology of hate resulting in the Holocaust to lynchings, to Jim Crow, that have stained the world and this nation during and after slavery.

For many, the actions in Charlottesville by such a large number of white supremacists were a wake-up call to racism and bigotry that many thought were banished decades ago. For others, the acts were different day, same story.

This violent expression of hatred at the site of a renowned public university demands action in every education institution.

First is to protect all students from being abused or demeaned. Second is to provide educators with tools to deal meaningfully with discrimination and hatred that they may see in their educational settings.  Third is to require all public officials to denounce—immediately and often—the actions of those advocating white supremacy.

The Klan and Nazi torches in Charlottesville illuminated what is all-too-frequently occurring in many parts and schools throughout our country.

We must remember that for every discriminatory act that appears on network news or on the front page of the daily newspaper, there are far more cases of violence, intimidation, and verbal and physical abuse that leave individuals and families suffering in silence and away from the public eye. A lonely high school corridor can be as frightening as an angry street when racism and intolerance run the halls.

Let us also remember and recognize the tremendous impact that these violent acts and images have on all the nation’s children—black, brown, and white. Some children deal with these actions firsthand. Others hear about it from friends or consume it through television, radio, and social media. All are asking questions that no parent should have to answer and dealing with fear that no child should experience. These young people represent the best that America has to offer. White supremacists represent the worst.


Students of color make up half of students nationwide, but this doesn’t mean that our schools and school districts are necessarily diverse and integrated. In fact, in over a quarter of school districts, 90 percent of the school population is white.

It’s especially important for school districts that are heavily white to engage in this conversation about the nation’s dark history with slavery and the dangerous white supremacy movement. It is equally important to use Charlottesville as a teachable moment in our homes, classrooms, and communities.

The Alliance for Excellent Education has compiled a series of resources for parents, teachers, and others to help start these conversations. They are available at the bottom of this blog post.


As a nation, let us pledge to confront and eliminate evil in all its forms. Let us pledge to value the diversity of America, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical ability, religion, age, and linguistics. Let us demonstrate to white supremacists that the violent and intimidating acts they support and the hateful messages they spew are not tolerated in America.

At the Alliance for Excellent Education, we value education over ignorance, truth over lies, action over inaction, and love over hate. We believe that everyone in America should live without fear, with the security that they have the right to reach for—and achieve—their every dream, for themselves and their children.

Click to TweetCondemning Racism & Bigotry & Using #Charlottesville as a Teachable Moment. Watch & access resources from @all4ed:

Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Others

On Recent Events in Charlottesville 

On Related Issues 

  • #FergusonSyllabus was developed and used in the wake of the protests that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Available on Edutopia, José Vilson, a middle school math teacher and coach discusses tools and strategies for having difficult but necessary conversations in “How to Teach Beyond Ferguson.”

On Segregation in Schools

On Confederate Symbols and Discussions About Race and Privilege

General Resources for Supporting Educators


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