mothers of diversity AMERICA:
MODA-stay socially distant, never emotionally or spiritually!
Equity and Justice in School Names Project Summary
Mothers of Diversity America (MODA) is a non-profit organization founded in West Virginia which is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds who are professionals in various fields and share concerns about outcomes for American children. MODA works to create academic, and civic engagement programming for underserved communities and insists that our children share equitably in the benefits of American society. One task is the interrogation of our systems of education. Through the Equity and Justice in School Names project, our work analyzes messages, practices and patterns of oppression, such as those caused by public schools named for White supremacists including Confederates. Our process is systematic and sensitively developed in collaboration with local and national partners to further educate communities and sensitize them and their leadership to the needs and concerns of diverse populations. MODA and other community members in education believe that schools named for the Confederacy are a trifecta for White supremacy which: 1) amplifies the inequities in achievement and treatment of Black students, 2) as symbolic violence, are overtly oppressive to minority descendants of the slave system and 3) cause inequitable microaggressive mental disruption for Blacks professionally and academically. We ultimately contend that public schools named after White supremacists and Confederates is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protections Clause and ask for your help in having this examined by the Supreme Court.
Dr. Ferguson has researched this civil rights violation and published at Marshall University, The Perceptions and Effects of Schools’ Names on Black Educators and Their Students,” 2019. Through a core national team including the preeminent scholar on cultural geography, Dr. Derek Alderman; and school naming activist from the National Education Association (NEA) Black Caucus, Ms. Linda Martley, the Equity and Justice in School Names project will collaborate with educational leadership such as Hampton University and the NAACP to develop a toolkit which fosters reconciliation within diverse communities and develops a common narrative regarding the Confederate stance on White supremacy and its role in the maintenance and expansion of Black enslavement. We expect that we can develop actionable strategies to sensitively eliminate the symbolic violence on Black educators, students and other like-minded individuals which occurs when public schools are named for White supremacists and Confederates. Dr. Ferguson has been speaking with and gaining insight from other national collaborators such as, the director of the National Education Association Human and Civil Rights Division , Mr. Harold Lawson; the editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Tolerance magazine, Ms. Maureen Costello; and the Education Committee of the Congressional Black Caucus including Danny Davis (IL).Dr. Ferguson was an invited speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference September, 2019 in Washington DC, at the American Educational Studies Conference beginning October, 2019 in Baltimore, MD and is a featured author in the SPLC Teaching Tolerance magazine, Fall, 2019, and in the Washington Post during the campaign she spearheaded in 2020, which resulted in victories changing the names of schools in Kanawha County, WV and Hanover County, VA where she collaborated with Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. She has also consulted on similar projects across the country and around the world.