Looking Ahead: Philadelphia’s Black History Summit

How do you practice your freedom? How do you practice freedom in your classroom? Your school? Your neighborhood? Your business?  Or your community? Philadelphia educators hope to answer these questions for you as we look past Black History Month into 2025 and 2026.

I am proud to say that I am a Black teacher of African American History in Philadelphia.  I even want to brag and argue that I currently teach amongst some of the most abolitionist, anti-racist educators when it comes to Black History education.  Despite the era of Black history education surveillance, Karents, book bans and more, I am proud to work in a city that has been on the front lines of teaching Black history.  This could not be more evident than the plans in development for a Black History Summit in 2026 to celebrate Philadelphia’s leading role in requiring Black history education. 

Through the leadership of Ismael Jimenez, the School District of Philadelphia’s Social Studies Director, plans are in the works for a two day conference to celebrate 20 years of African American history being a graduation requirement and the 100th Anniversary of Black History Month.   As Professor LaGarrett King argues Philadelphia is “exemplary” because “one of Philadelphia’s biggest priorities is ensuring that teachers have adequate training and resources.”  Through a variety of committees, Jimenez is putting together an incredible, talented, and creative team of educators from a diversity of disciplines to organize a summit titled “The Blackprint 20: Education as the Practice of Freedom.”

The early proposal of this summit describes that it “will be a culminating event, bringing together students, educators, community members, and stakeholders to celebrate the rich heritage and contributions of African Americans from across the country. The summit serves as a catalyst for dialogue, education, and empowerment, ensuring that African American history remains an integral part of the educational experience in the district for years to come.”

Indeed, upcoming advertising for this event further describes Philadelphia’s Black History Summit as “a platform for collaboration through uniting our community. It signifies Philadelphia’s ongoing effort to weave Black history into our educational and cultural fabric. It marks a new era, fostering hope for change and ensuring that Black and Brown legacies are not lost, but reborn into the hearts and minds of future generations.”

Meeting virtually on zoom regularly, a diverse group of educators serving on different subcommittees are bringing together their best suggestions for an engaging historical event.  The curriculum integration subcommittee is exploring year-long project ideas for teachers that could be planned over the next year, executed during the 2025-2026 school year, and then reported on at the summit. Among these are suggested historical markers, incorporating more Black history books in the classroom, creating lessons and units on Philadelphia’s local black history, and organizing a multi-cultural fair. 

The logistics and operations subcommittee is creating a list of potential partners and sponsors, and Black-owned businesses that could participate in the event.  Jimenez’s hope is that in addition to exploring Philadelphia’s leadership in Black history education, the summit would provide a means to encourage networking, helping to showcase Philadelphia’s local Black history brilliance. 

I am also happy to serve on the program and content subcommittee.  We have developed a list of potential themes to be highlighted.  These include intergenerational healing and joy, Black musicology, and linguistic justice.  In addition, this subcommittee has created a list of potential speakers that could speak at this two day event. 

Moreover, what is also wonderful about this future Black History Summit are the plans for community engagement.  Plans are in development for summer interns to reach directly out to community partners and potential lesser known heroes and activists within Philadelphia.  This Summit does not want to just lift up Philadelphia’s scholarly leadership, but those in our community who have prioritized Black liberation.  The Summit will celebrate those who help encourage the young, even if not in a traditional classroom space.  Part of the reason why Philadelphia is on the front lines in teaching Black history is because it has historically occurred in often uncolonized Black spaces and institutions.

From student performances, to Black food, free Black History teaching resources, and more, the “Blackprint 20: Education as a Practice of Freedom” seeks to uplift, show-off, and teach Black History education so that any participant can walk away from the event feeling inspired  with new information and pedagogical suggestions they can bring to their professional setting.  
If you are interested in participating, presenting, sponsoring this event, or just want to stay updated on it please complete this survey here. Because ultimately “this summit is a manifestation of hope, creating a shared reality where freedom through knowledge is a cornerstone for all.”

This is a reposting of Abigail’s article. The article was originally published by Education Week.


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