Churches have long been a space where Black folks look to find community, share their stories, and be inspired to take action. Whether that action is in their own personal lives or the greater community, it is with an expectation of change that folks begin to move forward, both leaning on their own mustard seed faith, and the faith that swells around them through the voices of trusted leaders, advisors, prayer warriors and church friends.
When we consider the current standing of schools that serve predominately Black and Brown populations across the nation, it is apparent that our children are expected to utilize that same "mustard seed faith" when they step on campus. Schools that serve Black and Brown children remain under-funded and over-policed, leaving students without the critical resources necessary to successfully engage in learning, and even when they do- many of their lessons are under grade level or culturally/generationally irrelevant. The promise made to students and their families by the Education system is that if they show up, they will have access to opportunities that bring success. This year, The Black Church Center partnered with We Are The Dream to find out if that promise had been kept for Black and Brown students attending public schools in New Jersey.
Meet Rev. Dr. Willie Francois, pastor, advocate, and community leader. His mission is to elevate the voices of grandparents, parents, young folks and everyone in between, to shed light on the experiences that exist at the intersection of being the 6th most segregated state for students in the U.S., and the collective dream of a liberated educational experience for all. Check out the video below where he shares some of his experiences as a student and his vision for activating church folk as agents of change.