Building on the success of previous conferences, the 2014 Race & Pedagogy National Conference welcomed again, more than 2,000 local, regional, national, and international participants to engage issues of race and its impact on education.
The 2014 Race & Pedagogy National Conference’s theme was “What NOW is the Work of Education and Justice?: Mapping a New Critical Conscience.” In asking “What Now?” the conference challenged us to align education and justice concepts in ways that call for conscience, critique, and change. The conference included critical models of the teaching of science and race; reexamination of the criminal justice system, including the problem of disparities in discipline in our schools and its connection to a pipeline to prison as part of our nation’s mass incarceration that has been characterized as the “New Jim Crow;” innovations in public education including, recruitment and retention of teachers of color, culturally responsive teaching, and other efforts to achieve equity; methods of documenting and researching social struggles, and explorations of institutional change processes.
There was an impressive roster of high-profile keynote speakers for this conference: civil rights activist, prison abolitionist, professor Angela Davis ; indigenous and environmental rights advocate and former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke; Harvard professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and sociologist and Duke University professor, Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. These four keynote speakers will headline an extraordinary team of educators, including scholars, artists, administrators, activists, and teachers and students at all levels who will deliver a conference program of special spotlight sessions as well as more than 50 concurrent panels, roundtables, poster sessions, artistic installations, music, and theater productions.
An important feature of the Conference was the one-day Youth Summit, which included approximately 350 high school and middle school students as well as teachers from Pierce County and beyond. A highlight of the Summit was the small group conversations with local elders who were veterans of local and national social justice movements.