A Program of Schools for Children

Anti-Racism Initiatives

At the heart of Lesley Ellis School has always been an anti-bias curriculum that is very much a part of the life of our school from preschool through grade 8. It’s infused in everything we do. It’s a way of life. From the books students read to the perspectives students study in history we look at everything through an anti-bias lens.

During the summer of 2020, while the Coronavirus pandemic was raging, so too was another pandemic and it’s one that won’t be solved with a vaccine … that of racial injustice. In September 2020, the school’s Advisory Board created an Anti-Racism Task force with a goal to  thoughtfully learn more about and take purposeful action against racism. Under the leadership of Advisory Board, 38 members of the school community, both parents and faculty, came together initially to actively support this anti-racism initiative. Out of this larger group, three areas of focus were established: activism, community outreach, and community education.

As the 2020-2021 school year progressed, the task force evolved into a collaborative in order to maintain both the momentum established the first year and to stay connected with the faculty and the broader school community. The initiatives underway now are an outgrowth of the initial task force and most importantly have risen out of the commitment of the Lesley Ellis community to take thoughtful and purposeful action against racism. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Events

COMMUNITY READ
Tuesday, February 8
7:00
p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood. By Dawn Turner

Mark your calendar to join us virtually for our next book discussion. This is part of our Community Read series and brought to you by the LES Anti-racism Task Force Education Committee.

About Three Girls from Bronzeville:

They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South.

These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks’ business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures. And then fate intervenes, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There’s heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder.

Three Girls from Bronzeville is a memoir that chronicles Dawn’s attempt to find answers. It’s a celebration of sisterhood, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.

-from Goodreads

SUMMER 2021
COMMUNITY READ

check out additional summer read suggestions in the “Read” section below

The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.


Interested in more resources? Check out the suggestions below.

Read

Some summer read suggestions:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (fiction)
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (nonfiction)
Good Talk by Mira Jacob (nonfiction, memoir)
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (nonfiction)
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (nonfiction, memoir)
The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla (nonfiction)
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (nonfiction)

Consider purchasing any books listed below from a Black-owned bookstore. Here are two based in MA:

Roxbury: https://frugalbookstore.net/
Springfield: http://olivetreebooksonline.com/

Watch

Listen

  • Seeing White by Scene on Radio – a 14 part series unpacking the concept of “whiteness”
  • Ruth Wilson Gilmore on Abolition for the Intercept podcast
  • Pod Save the People (weekly podcast) Organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with analysis from Sam Sinyangwe, Kaya Henderson, and De’Ara Balenger.  Then he sits down for deep conversations with experts, influencers, and diverse local and national leaders.  New episodes every Tuesday
  • 1619 Podcast by the New York Times on how slavery has transformed America
  • Callie Crosley’s radio program Under the Radar
  • Nice White Parents podcast (by the New York Times)