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On Wednesday, October 2, MMFS Director of Diversity and Equity Tatesha Clark took the stage at the storied Apollo Theater in Harlem. The Apollo’s Education Program presents workshops for educators that connect the rich history of the Apollo and Harlem to curriculum. Tatesha’s talk, “Between the World and Me in the Classroom – Talking to Students about Race and Racism,” was part of a larger exploration of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s National Book Award winner, and precedes another groundbreaking event at the Apollo: a live, multimedia, theatrical performance of Between the World and Me that will feature readings from the book, live music, and video projection. Tatesha was invited to speak to teachers on the themes of Coates’s book because of her experience and expertise in developing strategies for classroom conversations about race, racism, and identity.
Tatesha admits she was nervous when she walked onto the stage. “This is not like being a presenter in a hotel conference room. There’s a reverence when you walk into the Apollo. You can feel the presence of the people who stood on this stage—Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and the Count Basie Orchestra.”
The attendees asked thought-provoking and sometimes difficult questions, Tatesha reported. “The teachers want to have these conversations in the classrooms because the kids want to have these conversations. But they don’t know how to do it, especially with really young students. The language is hard. We need more workshops like this.” Tatesha encouraged the audience of educators to bring their own stories to these conversations to help students make the connection between the societal issues raised in Coates’s writing and their own personal experiences.
You can read Tatesha’s article “On Becoming an Anti-Bias Educator” here.