That is the best way to explain what Room 11 was all about. I still remember walking into Room 11 five years ago. “The last teacher left everything.” I didn’t really know that meant that all four walls were covered with years of papers stapled on top of each other. One third of the floor was covered with crumpled up assignments shoved into a “corner”. I remember working for hours with DJ to set up my classroom; to feel like my school “home”. Finding the right spot for each poster; hanging up the newspaper clippings of my time as an athlete; and standing on my Blackness in all of it. Truthfully though, I was still licking my wounds from being let go after a CIF-SJS section championship; I still saw myself primarily as a football coach, not a true educator.
What took place over the course of five years in Room 11 changed me to my core forever; and for that I am forever grateful. As I reflect on this journey, it is clear how each stop in my life to this point has been divinely ordered to prepare me for this present moment. Room 11 — what we accomplished, what we created, what we felt and lived was EXACTLY what I needed in order to build myself, my family, my community, Neighbor Program, the Shakur Center and Malcolm X Academy. Room 11 yall are responsible for that!
Room 11 taught me, day in and day out, that r/evolution is love in work and practice, and not just in words. Room 11 taught me that despite Kei’ Vaughn starting shit damn near every day, that if I stayed consistent and kept loving him through it all, that during that field trip to Grant for the Black History play, we would have a breakthrough. Room 11 taught me the true strength and power of love. It taught me that if I told these babies they were great and I loved them every day, that at some point they would know it too and they would believe it with their whole heart and it could change everything. And dammit if I dont have some of the best fuckin stories in the world from these babies coming into their power and speaking their truth right there in Room 11.
Room 11 wasn’t just a classroom, it was so much more than that. It was our home. In an educational world where Afrikan and Indigenous People are constantly under psychological warfare, Room 11 was a safe haven, a piece of peace amidst all the craziness in the world, in our worlds, and on…