The story of Alabama is a story of triumph. African Americans here consistently triumphed in the face of hundreds of years of violence perpetrated by their own government and their fellow citizens, until they finally stood up to lead the nation in the civil rights movement. We serve in the shadow of this history, often in the very same communities where this movement began and thrived. This work continues in the fight to ensure an excellent education for all kids.
Increased educational opportunity was certainly part of the vision that the community members of the Black Belt had when they first sat down at Mustang Oil, a diner in rural Alabama, and decided to work to bring Teach For America to the state. Despite many obstacles, they were able to secure everything necessary to guarantee 30 teachers a place to work in Alabama’s Black Belt beginning in 2010. Since then, the Alabama region has rapidly expanded to 130 total teachers across the Black Belt and in four of our five largest urban areas.
Our alumni are already taking on major policy roles statewide, becoming principals, and bringing AP classes, ACT prep, and college-level work and leadership opportunities to their schools, often for the first time. While we have a long way to go to build the movement necessary to see the transformational change our students deserve, we have maintained the grassroots spirit that first brought us here, and we are committed to partnering with our communities, joining their movement, ensuring the lasting impact we have is in empowering and working with the leaders who have been dedicated to our students for decades.
As education remains one of the greatest civil rights issues of our day, we must work in the places that bred the movement for equality. Alabama is one of those key places and the time is right now.