Why are we mute? This was the powerful essential question that Harry Belafonte asked as he received the prestigious Spingarn Award at the NAACP’s recent Image Award ceremonies. Further, he asked the listening audience, where are our leaders? where are our legislators? where our churches?
Harry Belafonte, a national icon and veteran civil and human rights activist, said that a river of blood washes the streets of our nation and that blood flows mostly from our black children. Belafonte went on to remind us that there were many courageous men and women who were not mute in times of struggle and crisis. These heroes many of whom were his mentors spoke truth to power and often in the face of threats of physical harm.
Belafonte reminded us that people like W.E.B Dubois, Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King Jr. Eleanor Roosevelt, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker were the keepers of the moral compass.
I was moved by Harry Belafonte’s remarks, his chides and provocations. For those of us who have been the direct beneficiaries of the selfless work of champions like Belafonte, I have a moral obligation not to be mute. It is my responsibility and others who work in the particular field of education, not to be silent.
The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color must to do all that it can to advance the education of male students. It is our belief that they are filled with promise not pathology. Our mission is to connect, inspire, support and strengthen school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color. And in this mission we must be ready to raise our voices as advocates for families, communities and schools that truly believe that the future of our boys and young men of color depends on our collective willingness not to press the Mute button.
Too many of our children are dying. They are dying from epidemic of outrageous street violence that has become a holocaust. The disastrous loss of so many of our children and youth must no longer consign us to a status of silence. In other words the very future of our people is inextricably tied to the survival of our young.
As Executive Director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color I challenge all who work in the service of boys, young men and men of color to continue to speak and act with conviction and commitment. I encourage you to respond to Harry Belafonte’s question, why are we mute? Let’s raise our collective voices in response to the devastation heaped upon our communities. Let’s take up the moral compass that will guide us in our respective work on behalf of those we serve.