Acceptance speech

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Here I am applauding my “co-conspirators” right after my award acceptance speech. You can read the transcript of my 2-minute video here:

“First, I’d like to thank the founders of NAME for creating such a welcoming community of dedicated and inspiring activist-scholars. I’d like to thank the current NAME leadership and staff for their tireless labors to sustain an organization that I’m proud to be a part of.

I’d like to thank my friend and mentor, Sonia Nieto, for her support and encouragement over the 37 years that I’ve known her. She is largely responsible for me becoming a teacher, and she introduced me to NAME and what it’s all about.

I’d like to thank my UMass Amherst posse, as well as my colleagues at other institutions, because it truly does take a village to do any of this unglamorous work in education. I say thank you to my sons and my grandchildren, and to my students over the years, for reminding me why the struggle must continue.

And I’d like to say thank you especially to the Indigenous people and nations for allowing me to visit and live in their homelands, and for teaching me in different ways, and for reminding me. For reminding us all, of the debt we owe to their nations.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my different sets of parents: My foster parents, Mr. & Mrs. Kelly who were African American. They started me out in life until I got adopted. They showed me the true meaning of Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “Childhood,” the one where she reminds us, ‘Black love is black wealth.’

I say thank you to my white birth mother and my black birth father, who gave me life. Even though I was not allowed to know them, I thank them for giving me the chance to experience life on planet earth.

And I thank my white adoptive parents, who are both immigrants, who showed me by their example that those imaginary lines called borders are for crossing. They’re bridges, not walls. I thank Mom & Dad for raising me in a progressive faith community, and for making it possible for me to go to college, so that I could join a community of awesome co-conspirators like the people gathered here at this conference.”

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Multicultural Educator of the Year 2017

I am honored to have received the 2017 Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education.

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The photo above shows Dr. Pritchy Smith about to hand me the award (named after him) at the President’s Awards Banquet in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was thrilling to meet him and get to know him on a personal level. Coincidentally, Pritchy has a connection to education in Belize, the Central American nation that I visit with UNL’s College of Education & Human Sciences students.

The criteria state that the educator must show the following as a teacher:

  • There is evidence of long term, scholarly commitment to teaching from a multicultural perspective.
  • There are multiple facets of diversity (e.g., race, ethnicity, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, exceptionality, belief systems) addressed in the recipient’s work.
  • The recipient is an example of multicultural ideals and practices (e.g., teaching excellence, service in the community, participation in local, regional, or national organizations).
  • The recipient is able to blend theory and practice in a manner that develops awareness, acceptance, and affirmation of diversity.

Past recipients include Carl Grant, Christine Clark, William Howe, Jioanna Carjuzaa, Ann Lopez, Aukram Burton, and Sonia Nieto, among others. I am humbled to be included in this list of distinguished scholar-activists whose work I admire so much.

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