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multi colored hand illustration working together to achieve anti racism in the classroom

As Juneteenth is established as a federal holiday in the United States, it marks a significant milestone in acknowledging the historical importance of emancipation and the ongoing struggle against racial injustice.

Going beyond symbolism, Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder of the pressing need for anti-racist endeavors. It calls upon us to actively engage in the process by educating ourselves, sharing resources, and promoting anti-racist practices within educational settings. Here are several actionable ways to contribute and drive positive change.

What is Juneteenth? 

Juneteenth is a holiday observed on June 19th that celebrates the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached enslaved African Americans in Texas in 1865, marking the end of slavery in the Confederate states. It’s a significant occasion that honors African American history and promotes reflection on the ongoing struggle for racial equality.

Recognizing the Need for Systemic Change in Education

Across the US, the K-12 public school student populations are becoming increasingly diverse, yet schools remain segregated racially, ethnically, and economically, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO)

In the 2020-21 school year annual report, the National Center for Education Statistics found that 80% of public school teachers are white while over 50% of the students are non-white. Black students are taught by white teachers, while white students have very few Black teachers.

By acknowledging this reality, educators can take an active role in dismantling these systems and creating more inclusive and equitable learning environments worthy of shaping students’ experiences and outcomes.

Strategies for Anti-Racist Work in Education

Educators play a crucial role in promoting anti-racist behavior and challenging systemic racism in education. To effectively engage in this work, practical steps can be taken within classrooms and schools:

  • Creating an inclusive curriculum that reflects diverse perspectives and histories:
    • Educators can integrate diverse voices, experiences, and histories into their curriculum, providing students with a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the world.
  • Fostering culturally responsive teaching practices:
    • Culturally responsive teaching recognizes and values students’ cultural backgrounds, incorporating their experiences and identities into instructional approaches. It creates a supportive and inclusive learning environment where all students can thrive.
  • Engaging in critical conversations about race and racism with students:
    • By facilitating open and honest discussions about race and racism, educators can help students develop critical thinking skills and foster empathy, understanding, and respect for diverse perspectives.
  • Implementing restorative justice approaches to discipline:
    • Restorative justice focuses on repairing harm, building relationships, and promoting a sense of community within the school environment. It emphasizes dialogue, accountability, and personal growth rather than punitive measures, ultimately addressing the root causes of behavioral issues.

Empowering Educators: Essential Resources for Anti-Racist Education

To support educators in their anti-racist work, numerous resources are available. These include organizations, books, podcasts, and online professional development courses that provide guidance and insights into fostering inclusive classrooms and promoting social justice. By engaging with these resources, educators can feel confident taking action as anti-racist educators.

Anti-Racist Organizations For Educators:

  • Learning for Justice provides educational resources and materials aimed at promoting social justice, equity, and anti-racist practices in schools and communities.
  • Zinn Education Project provides free, downloadable resources for teaching people’s history and a more inclusive version of US history, inspired by the work of historian Howard Zinn.
  • National Equity Project provides consulting and coaching to help leaders and teams make informed decisions and take more effective action. 
  • Facing History & Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.
  • Rethinking Schools offers articles, lesson plans, and curriculum materials focused on social justice teaching and critical thinking.
  • Teaching For Change offers resources, book lists, and lesson plans that emphasize social justice, multiculturalism, and activism in the classroom.



  • “1619” by The New York Times examines the legacy of slavery in the US, exploring its far-reaching impact on American society and culture. It was created in 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in colonial America. 
  • “Seeing White” by Scene on Radio delves into topics such as systemic racism in the US, white privilege, and the ways in which “whiteness” has shaped American society.
  • “Teaching Hard History” by Learning For Justice focuses on the challenging aspects of teaching American history, particularly the history of slavery and its legacies. 
  • “Code Switch” by NPR examines how race intersects with various aspects of life, including politics, entertainment, and everyday experiences. Code switching refers to the practice of where people effortlessly switch between different ways of speaking or expressing themselves depending on who they’re talking to or the situation they’re in, to fit in with the social and cultural context.

Online Professional Development Courses:

By engaging with these resources, educators can gain valuable insights, practical strategies, and a deeper understanding of how to foster inclusive classrooms, challenge systemic racism, and promote social justice in education. 

Taking proactive steps toward dismantling systems of oppression

Educators have a vital role to play in dismantling systems of power and oppression within education. By implementing practical strategies, engaging with resources, and committing to ongoing anti-racist work, educators can create transformative change within their classrooms and schools. Through their efforts, a more equitable and inclusive society can be realized, where every student has the opportunity to thrive.

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