Since October of last year, Black Male Educators Convening (BMEC) has held quarterly gatherings of Black men that work in schools throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Teachers, deans, administrators, principals, nonprofit leaders and CEOs have collaborated to celebrate, empower, and network.
This Saturday the collective will host BMEC III: The Pipeline, Politics & Mindsets of Black Male Educators at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School. BMEC III will address the responsibilities of Black men, in the education space, as conscious liberators, understanding advocacy and how to partner with policy makers to impact change in urban school communities.
“As a transplant to the Philadelphia area, I am excited about the work taking place through the Fellowship and the Black Male Educator Convenings (BMEC),” stated William Hayes, a Fellow with The America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals (AAFTP). Hayes has offered support through his work with the Impact Project, the Black Male Educator Alliance.
“Since our first convening in October 2015, we’ve seen the voices of Black male educators united and elevated in a way that many cities across America want and need. This is proven by the countless number of conversations we’ve had with district, state, and nonprofit leaders around the country looking for support to do similar work,” Hayes said.
Vincent Cobb, Director of Family & Community Engagement for Mastery Charter School campuses in North Philadelphia, along with Sharif El Mekki, Principal at Mastery Shoemaker School in West Philadelphia, are leading the charge.
Last year, the inaugural BMEC brought together 130 Black male leaders in education and 20 special guests from around the Philadelphia community.
Currently, Black men make up only two percent of the teaching profession. The Fellowship was created to amplify the voices of Black men working in education and address the low presence of Black males in the field. The purpose of the group is build, network and empower one another to fulfill our impact in the classroom, school buildings, communities, board rooms and beyond.
“For me, The Fellowship represents another opportunity to live the Nguzo Saba principle of Collective Work and Responsibility. As a new teacher, and, later, as a new principal, I was provided with significant mentorship, access, and opportunity,” El Mekki said.
“Twenty-three years ago, an organization, Concerned Black Men, worked with the School District of Philadelphia to increase the numbers of Black men leading classrooms as teachers. I was amongst those numbers,” he added.
“Years later, as a new principal, I was formally and informally mentored by other principals-several of whom were Black males,” El Mekki said. “Through The Fellowship, I am able to provide similar support to others that I received and benefited from throughout my career as a teacher and principal. We aim to “lift as we climb” through The Fellowship and our Black Male Educators Convening (BMEC).”
As Principal Ambassador to the United States Department of Education and My Brothers Keeper Initiative sponsored by President Barack Obama, El Mekki has been recognized as a change agent for his efforts.
Civil Rights Activist and Scholar, Howard Fuller, will be the keynote speaker this Saturday. Fuller received his B.S. degree in Sociology from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin; his M.S.A. degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio; and his Ph.D. in Sociological Foundations of Education from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
“BMEC is growing because the demand from school partners, communities and families is clear. Black men make up just two percent of teachers in US urban school districts. Two percent is simply not enough and the future of BMEC will continue to give this diversity crisis in schools a face and real voices to consider as we help systems leaders address the low presence of Black men in schools,” Cobb said.
“We are proud to be partnering with the local school districts, PA Department of Education and US Department of Education to refine our strategic plan and reach on this issue through national Teach to Lead summits,” he added. “These summits are opportunities to keep our efforts on the radar of policy makers while developing a plan vetted by a think tank of national, state education officials and school practitioners.
“BMEC is a platform to ground our advocacy for Black male educators in real voices from men who work in and for schools every day,” Cobb said. “We can’t ignore that the growing minority student population needs strong educators that have the cultural context and mindsets to meet students where they are and challenge students to meet the high bar.”