Education is the most powerful institution because it has the power and ability to establish morals, values and beliefs. Schooling does not always provide education. – Dr. DeMarcus McMillan
The stats still show that there is a low, yet growing number of black men entering into the field of education. HBCUs have always been a strong force in developing black male educators. Such is the case with DeMarcus McMillan. A few years ago, he earned the title of Mr. Tuskegee at the historic Tuskegee University. Recently he is working on his doctorate degree at Howard University where he is studying the mass incarceration of black males. Mr. McMillan took his leadership from being former Mr. Tuskegee and is changing the game for black student success as an educator. As our blog post continues to celebrate and highlight black male educators, check out DeMarcus’s views below on being a black male educator and why we must empower black students.
Why is Education the Key to Success for Black Children?
I believe that education is simply experiences that shape one’s thinking, actions and world views. This allows people to be free to critically think and not simply exist in the world around them. This welcomes debate that is based on empirical and factual evidence. It is also profoundly moral; it should be rooted in morality and ethics to shape and mold humans to be and do good in the world. The goal of education is to shape and mold people to agents of goodness who use their ability to think to impose morals, values and belief for the overall goodness in the world. We simply cannot treat all children the same. This is why standardized testing, curriculum and instruction will not benefit our programs if we simply teach classes without differentiating instruction. I differentiate instruction, focus on my individual students’ needs, build professional relationships with students and use data to drive instruction for each student. We cannot standardize unstandardized people.
Why are Educators the Example?
I am the proud advisor of The Alpha Elite Service Organization. It is an organization that seeks to make young boys of today better men of tomorrow. My fraternity is an integral part of this program because my brothers provide additional role models for my young Black male students. We must go beyond advocating on social media and get into the classrooms and communities. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, INC. has several programs to help our Black community. Programs such as Project Alpha, Go to High School, Go to College and Voteless People is A Hopeless People are resources I actively implement in my school through my organization Alpha Elites.
Why Does the Dream Still Matter?
One of the biggest tenets of Dr. King’s dream is tolerance and unity. I believe in setting the culture for education in schools. First, students must feel included in the community of schools so that they will feel safe and valued. I accept my students for who they are and show no signs of prejudice or discrimination. I accept and tolerate all walks of life and teach my students to do the same. I speak heavily about altruism and love for one another. The only way that we will see more unified and tolerable communities is if we start at the schoolhouse. Today we see discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, creeds, socioeconomic statuses and abilities. However, I implement Dr. King’s dream by defying all of those political categories by believing that we all are a part of one race of people; the human race. The dream still matters, especially in such a time as this!
Why Black Male Educators are Needed?
Black males only make up 2% of the teaching force in this nation. In my doctoral dissertation, I studied what makes black males unique in our country. We have a traumatic past that stems from slavery yet built on resistant and resilient. I position myself in front of my students in such a way that my students of color can see a young, strong educated black man who can think critically, speak articulately and write consciously. I strive every day to defy the negative images of black men. I grew up without a father and raised by a single mother with her three children. I have long locs and tattoos and was caught up in drugs in my younger years. I am very transparent about my past as much as I am about my present and future. Despite my past, I wanted an education. I allow my students to know that I am working on a PhD. I park my 2016 white BMW in front of the school every day so that they can see that the young, poor boy from Prichard, AL is soon to be Dr. McMillan living his dreams in Washington, DC. I teach them with passion and purpose so that they too can aspire to fulfill their dreams even though the odds may stacked against them. I take extra time after school to assist them with college, career or military applications so that I can ensure that their next steps will help them to be all that God has called them to be. As a Black Male Educator, I take my position very seriously.
Why Must We Empower Black Students?
If we don’t empower our black students, then the stigma and stereotypes created about them will. I have a series of projects that I require of my students. First, they must obtain 24 hours of service learning hours. This requirement ensures that they are productive citizens of their communities and the world. Then, they must write an essay on their experience. This forces the students to reflect on their contributions. The next assignment is that I require students to argue and stand for or against a humanitarian issue such as the death penalty, abortion, slavery in other countries and poverty just to name a few. I inspire them to take some responsibility for standing up and fighting for the greater good in a world that may not always provide goodness for all people. Other than those two major assignments, I always engaged them in conversation about civic and political events and how it shapes the world we live in today. If we engage our black students in out of the box ways, then they will be empowered to take their futures into their own hands.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.