We at Constitutional Rights Foundation add our voices to those who are grieving and speaking out about the tragic killing of George Floyd. We stand with those who seek justice in his case, the case of Breonna Taylor, and countless others. These cases painfully remind us of serious issues about how law enforcement officers have treated Black people. We denounce systemic racism and inequality that Black people have experienced throughout U.S. history and affirm that Black lives matter.
As an organization dedicated to civic education, we feel an urgent responsibility to help teachers do what James Baldwin said in October 1963 about their essential role: “[B]e prepared to ‘go for broke’ . . . to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty . . . .”
It is our mission to be committed to principles expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We recognize that those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech, peaceful assembly, and petitioning the government have been indispensable in spurring the United States toward equality and justice for all. Throughout U.S. history, when Black people and other people of color have spoken out, their courage has not been without severe physical and emotional cost.
Through CRF’s decades of work, we have seen and experienced the inequities in this country’s education system. We continue to believe that our schools are crucial sites where young people can confront painful histories and realities, and where they can gain knowledge of their rights and the skills to engage in democratic processes. We know that teachers are on the front lines of the vital work ahead.
At this moment, as the United States confronts once again the pain wrought by racism and inequity, we pledge:
To the students we serve nationwide, we commit to take up James Baldwin’s call to “go for broke” to help equip you with the tools and skills you need to be thoughtful agents of change. We commit to listen to you and amplify your voices as you call for systemic solutions to systemic problems as you address issues that matter to you. We are so proud of the work you have done and will support you in your work ahead.
To the teachers we serve across the country, we commit to support you as you “go for broke” with your students; to provide you with the resources and programs you need to help your students be informed, valued, and empowered; and to listen to you and respond meaningfully when you tell us what you need from us.
We are grateful to all of you who join us in this effort and who strive with us, in the words of the Preamble of the Constitution, to make our nation a more perfect Union.