My Heart Breaks for Black Boys Who Gave Everything to Cross the High School Graduation Stage

As a former high school teacher, I can't begin to imagine the emotional roller graduates, parents and teachers of the graduating Class of 2020 are experiencing.

I know that many families are heartbroken over the reality that the Class of 2020 high school graduations may not happen.

But I also know the disappointment and heartbreak happening in Black households across the Nation. Graduation is a major milestone for many Black families, especially those who are first generation graduates. Black and brown children face a lot of different challenges in school than their counterparts. These challenges coupled with issues from home and the community don't make the educational journey an ease on down the road.

My heart breaks for Black boys who struggled to survive for graduation and now can't. Our public school systems are especially difficult for Black boys to successfully matriculate through especially when they don't have teachers standing before them who look like them. We know the stories. Black boys begin struggling in schools as early as 2nd grade maybe even Kindergarten. Graduation for Black boys is major milestones. We've seen young Black boys through the Black Lives Matter movement who didn't make it to graduation even in their senior year due to police brutality. This isn't even including those who don't graduate due to other tragedies, disciplinary actions and academic progression.

I see the struggles of Black boys in public school classrooms. One reason I came back to the classroom to teach special education was so that Black boys in these spaces can see someone who looks like them. It's hard enough matriculating through school and facing learning disabilities. It's even harder when you don't connect with someone who can identify with what you're experiencing. I think about all the teachers who have helped the Black boys scheduled to walk across graduation stages for the Class of 2020. Their experiences and struggles to complete K-12 educational program won't be certified with a ceremony.

And as much as I want to empower and say it's okay, the great task of completing school is over. But the celebration, the outward presentation to your family, loved ones and peers is an important part of the journey. Under the unfortunate circumstances, this dream of so many Black boys told at young ages by adults in and out of classrooms that they wouldn't make it. Regardless if they get a chance to walk across the graduation stage, they will have completed their journey. And that STILL counts!

I'm charging alumni, school leaders and parents to come together and support the Class of 2020 high school graduates with innovative ideas to celebrate graduation.

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