Center on Culture, Race & Equity

Black Lives Matter at School Week Early Childhood Symposium

Black Lives Matter at School logoFrom Theory to Practice in Early Education:
Black Children Learning and Thriving

February 6, 2019

As part of Black Lives Matter at School Week, Bank Street College will host an in-depth dialogue on supporting equity and the early education of Black children. This event, which includes a two-part panel discussion, represents Bank Street’s commitment to building a better society by acknowledging the work that needs to be done around equity for Black children and families.

To register, click below. Please be sure to arrive early to secure a seat in the auditorium. Once full, overflow seating and viewing will be available in the lobby and dining room.

Access the event via livestream at


  • Schedule of Events

    Black Children Learning Panel Discussion

    4:15 PM – Welcome and Introductions
    4:30 PM – Presentations by Panelists
    4:45 PM – Moderated Dialogue
    5:15 PM – Audience Q&A
    5:45 PM – Closing Remarks and Call to Action


    6:00 PM – Vegan Hors D’oeuvres by woke foods

    Black Children Thriving Panel Discussion

    6:30 PM – Welcome and Introductions
    6:45 PM – Presentations by Panelists
    7:15 PM – Moderated dialogue
    7:45 PM – Audience Q&A
    8:15 PM – Closing Remarks and Call to Action

  • Speaker Bios: Black Children Learning Panel

    Dr. Robin Hancock, Moderator
    Director, Guttman Center for Early Care & Education

    Dr. Robin Hancock joined Bank Street as director of the Guttman Center for Early Care & Education in the Fall of 2016. She is an early education specialist committed to community organizing and strengthening the work of other educators. Robin began her career as a teacher and, after completing an MA in Social Anthropology at Brandeis University, she began to engage in social justice work with a focus on literacy programs and student-teacher professional development. In 2009, she completed a doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching with a concentration in Early Childhood Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

    David A. Jones

    David A. Jones, LMSW, is an author and filmmaker whose recent film, Fathering Me: The Long Walk Home, explores the path many men take in the absence of biological fathers or positive male role models. Jones is the former director of family support services for the Children and Family Services Division at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Home Care, where he helped implement its Early Head Start program and launched the Bronx Fatherhood Program. In 2011, he joined the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC to work for Children and Family Services, Office of Head Start. He is married and the father of four sons.

    Isoke Titilayo Nia

    Isoke Titilayo Nia, a lifelong educator and former director of research and development for the Reading & Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, founded All Write Literacy Consultants, Inc. in 2001. Since then, this group of experienced literacy experts work with educators throughout the US, Africa, the Caribbean, and other countries. Nia is currently writing a book with the working title, Digging Deep: The Study of Genre in the Process Classroom.

    Maimuna Mohammed
    Content Developer and Facilitator, Bank Street Center on Culture, Race & Equity

    Maimuna Mohammed is the content developer and facilitator at Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity. Before immigrating to the US, she taught in Africa for several years. Mohammed is an active alumna of the City College of New York Center for Worker Education and a founding member of its mentoring initiative. Mohammed has been working as an early childhood educator in community-based programs in New York City for more than 22 years. She is working toward her master’s degree in the Early Childhood Leadership at Bank Street Graduate School of Education’s Principal Institute.

    Anthony Tucker, GSE ’18
    Assistant Principal and Author

    Anthony Tucker is an author and public school assistant principal who writes about and teaches in the South Bronx. His first book, A Rocky Start, won the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Award and was a finalist for the 2018 International Book Award. Tucker’s work as an educator and former high school basketball and volleyball coach encourages students from neglected neighborhoods to pursue their education with passion, commitment, and a higher sense of self-confidence.

  • Speaker Bios: Black Children Thriving Panel

    Fela Barclift
    Founder and Director, Little Sun People, Inc.

    Fela Barclift founded Little Sun People, Inc. (LSP), a community child care center that provides premier preschool and after school services in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. For almost 40 years, her mission at LSP has been to educate children in their most formative years about the history and culture of all people of color with a particular emphasis on people of African ancestry in order to create a sense of pride, identity, purpose, and achievement. Barclift also served as one the first teachers at Uhuru Sasa Shule (Freedom Now School).

    Takiema Bunche-Smith, GSE ’97, Moderator
    Deputy Director, Bank Street Center on Culture, Race & Equity

    Takiema Bunche-Smith is the deputy director of Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity. Bunche-Smith worked as a preschool and elementary teacher and has served in various early childhood education management positions in support of young children and families in New York City. Her work has been guided by a deep commitment to racial equity, social justice, and a belief that collaboration and reflection has the power to change people and systems for the better. Bunche-Smith holds master’s degrees from Bank Street College of Education and NYU Wagner School for Public Service.

    Alvin Irby
    Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Barbershop Books

    Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher and award-winning social entrepreneur, national speaker, comedian, and author. As the founder of Barbershop Books, a literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers, he won the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize. Irby also works with school districts, library systems, and non-profits to provide cultural competency training. Irby has an MS in General Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a BA in Sociology from Grinnell College.

    Akiea Gross
    Social Entrepreneur Founder, Equitable Schools, Inc.

    Akiea Gross is an educator, writer, and social entrepreneur who believes that every child is entitled to a racially and culturally equitable education. She founded Equitable Schools, Inc., an education-based non-profit working to close the opportunity gap through strategies that address racial and cultural inequities in schools. Akiea also launched #blackteachersmatter and Woke Kindergarten, a curated brand of teacher tips, resources, and content for the early childhood classroom. Akiea holds an MA in Childhood Education/Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and an MS in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka
    Consultant and Nurse-Midwife

    Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, CNM, MSN, MSEd, is a nurse-midwife and innovative culture worker leveraging digital media to impact health and parenting. In addition to clinical work at an independent birth center, she also writes, speaks, and consults on the use of social media to build community and leverage it for social change. Sangodele-Ayoka is a co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers, and a program associate with She graduated from Yale University and Vassar College and is a wife and mother to two boys.

  • About Black Lives Matter at Schools Week

    The right to an equitable education for Black children in the US continues to be stifled by a number of factors including implicit bias, lack of equitable funding, and disproportionate suspension of Black students, even as young as 4-years-old. Very young Black children and their families are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of educational inequities as they are at the foundational stages of their educational lives.

    In October 2016 in Seattle, 300 educators entered their school buildings wearing shirts stating “Black Lives Matter, We Stand Together.” On that day, the bravery, care, and love these educators demonstrated for the Black children they were charged to educate set the stage for the first Black Lives Matter at Schools Week of Action in February of 2018.

    The demands for this week of action were, and continue to be, threefold:

    1. End zero tolerance discipline and implement restorative justice
    2. Hire more Black teachers
    3. Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum

    During the week of February 4–8, schools across the country will recognize Black Lives Matter at Schools Week through dialogue, curricula, and community events dedicated to exploring structural racism, intersectional Black identities and Black history, and the theories, practices, and policies that promote equity and support Black children thriving.

  • Join the Conversation on Social

    We encourage you to join us on social media to start a larger conversation about equity and access for Black children in education. Follow Bank Street College at @bankstreetedu and our Center on Culture, Race & Equity at @ccre_bsc and use the following hashtags:

    • #BankStreet
    • #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool

Child looking at mushroom through magnifying glass

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