July/August 2022 Issue
June 19, 2022

NYSUT commits to safe schools, advancing social justice

Author: Kara Smith
Source: NYSUT United
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Caption: Hundreds of education professionals, students and community members from across Buffalo and Western New York rallied in early June to mourn those lost and send the message that unity is more powerful than racism and hate. The statewide union also announced the NYSUT Memorial Scholarship for Buffalo Students and Families, created in partnership with Buffalo-area community groups. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

The May 14 murders at a Buffalo supermarket in a predominately Black community, and the Robb Elementary school massacre a little over a week later in Uvalde, Texas, sent our state and nation reeling. They left nearly 30 dead — 19 of them children.

Hundreds of education professionals, students and community members from across Buffalo and Western New York rallied in early June to mourn those lost and send the message that unity is more powerful than racism and hate. The statewide union also announced the NYSUT Memorial Scholarship for Buffalo Students and Families, created in partnership with Buffalo-area community groups.

“It’s traumatic to know that just going to the supermarket, or going to school, can get you killed — it shatters your sense of security,” said NYSUT Secretary- Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham, who traveled to Buffalo for the event with fellow officers Andy Pallotta, NYSUT president, Ron Gross, NYSUT second vice president and Melinda Person, NYSUT executive director. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten also attended.

Among those murdered in Buffalo were two active NYSUT members, Pearl Young of Substitutes United/ Buffalo and Margus Morrison of Transportation Aides of Buffalo. A third victim was Aaron Salter Jr., a former Substitutes United/Buffalo member and a retired police officer. On duty that day as a supermarket security guard, Salter was killed after firing at the gunman.

“We need to take this moment and turn it into a movement for change,” said Abraham, who called on communities to stand together against hatred and bigotry and “fight for stronger laws to protect against gun violence.”

NYSUT launched the Safe Schools for All initiative last month to support safe public schools as the center of every community and address violence in schools.

Under Abraham’s leadership, the statewide union also instituted an Advancing Racial Justice in Education Agenda. Thanks to the initiative, hundreds of educators statewide have attended Sticks & Stones: Understanding Implicit Bias & Stereotypes, a free, four-hour workshop that encourages participants to consider how someone’s ethnicity, race, ability and socio-economic background can impact how they experience our society.





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