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Learning for Justice: Teaching Tolerance changes its name to reflect evolving work in the struggle for radical change in education and community

In order for us as a poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed.
–Ella Baker

I am Jalaya Liles Dunn, and I am delighted, honored and eager to be joining you as the new director of this important project of radical education, justice and democracy.

Twenty years ago, I was introduced to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance while serving as an Ella Baker Trainer for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program.

An organizer and human rights activist, Baker understood the work necessary to effect systems change. “We are going to have to learn to think in radical terms,” she wrote in 1969, “getting down to and understanding the root cause. [That] means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”

Baker’s leadership in empowering ordinary people like you and me continues to call me to this work. That’s why I’m so excited to share that the announcement of my leadership is coupled with other important news: the long-anticipated name change of Teaching Tolerance.

As we’ve written before, this project needs a name that reflects how our work has evolved over the last 30 years – from reducing prejudice to more pointedly supporting action to address injustice.

Learning for Justice is the new name for our work in the struggle for radical change in education and community!

We are called as educators, justice advocates, caregivers and students to reimagine and reclaim our education system so that it is inclusive and just.

In shifting from Teaching Tolerance to Learning for Justice, we’re offering an urgent call to action: We must learn, grow and wield power together.

That’s how we will make justice real in our lives and in the lives of the students, families, educators and communities we serve.

The rollout of our new name will take place over the upcoming months. You will start seeing changes on our website and social media accounts, and gradually in our publications, lessons and other resources. The next time you read the magazine, it will be called Learning for Justice.

That’s why we’re so proud that the final issue of Teaching Tolerance is also a good look at the work we’ll be doing as Learning for Justice.

In this issue of the magazine, we highlight stories across the wide spectrum of education, examining the ways systems and institutions perpetuate racism and white supremacy.

Learning from one another is how we begin to determine what justice looks like in schools. In this issue, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from student activists, Black male educators, education professors, math educators, school administrators, grassroots organizers, policy and legislative advocates and others. 

But learning is only a first step. As Frederick Douglass wrote, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Together, the voices in this issue demand radical change, challenging white supremacy in school and teacher education curricula, school discipline policies, school facilities and classroom climates.

Radical change is a persistent and protracted process of discourse, debate, consensus, reflection and struggle. The stories in this issue reveal the inner workings of this process.

In this issue of the magazine, you will also hear from Black students and recent alumni fighting to reclaim and rename schools named after Robert E. Lee. Hear what #DisruptTexts co-founder Lorena Germán has to say about anti-racism and decolonized classrooms. Meet the activists working to ensure all students can find themselves in their curricula. Learn how Black male educators are finding – and making – space for joy. And join our advisory board to consider the significant progress toward equity you and your school can make in just 100 days.

We’re grateful to all of you who have worked alongside us for so long. And we look forward to continuing our work together and learning for justice with you.

Illustration by Alex Williamson