Council Letter

February 22, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

It’s time to remember the bold words of a civil rights pioneer: “If I can sit down for freedom, you can stand up for children,” a call to action from Rosa Parks, whose birthday we marked this month. Parks caught the nation’s attention in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man while riding a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks’ action caused the Black community to boycott Montgomery buses for a year, and she went on to work with civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fight for racial equality nationwide. Parks’ sense of commitment earned her fame as the “first lady of civil rights,” and she’s one of many Black women who have made history by standing up for what’s right.

They include the educators who appear on the banner of our newsletter along with Parks. In the 1930s, Fannie C. Williams opened the first nursery and kindergarten for Black children in New Orleans. In the 1940s, psychologist Mamie Phipps Clark conducted research studies showing how segregation and discrimination damaged the self-esteem of Black children. In the ‘60s, Evelyn K. Moore taught in the Perry Preschool Project, which demonstrated that access to high-quality preschool could make a lifelong impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moore went on to become founder and director of the National Black Child Development Institute, where she advanced early learning for young Black children. And this month we feature two Black early educators who have also embraced this cause.

Teaching Black children to have self-esteem, as Clark did, has long been a goal for Margo Ford Crosby, as you’ll read this month. She has championed equity and inclusion as a preschool teacher, community college instructor and ECE high school teacher. She also shows other early childhood professionals how to embrace equity and inclusion in the training she provides. And she puts a new spin on the phrase “black is beautiful” in her book Mirrors Up, which shows children how to see the best reflection of themselves. “My belief is that children can face challenges later in life if they affirm themselves at an early age,” Margo says. “So, I urge all children to hold their heads high, look people in the eye and smile.”

You may also smile when you see how Carmen Davis works hard to make all children feel good about themselves at her family child care home in Tennessee. And she does it by urging them not to focus on things money can buy. When children show her that they have fancy new hairdos or new shoes, Carmen gives them a gentle lesson on what really counts. She tells them that what she really likes is how they smile, put their toys away or help a classmate. “I work each day to plant the precious seeds of kindness in young children,” Carmen says. And she sets a good example for the young learners. She cared for two children for almost no pay when their family became homeless. And this kind act shows what Rosa Parks meant when she said, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”

One of the Council’s own models is Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., our first CEO to hold a CDA. Now, Dr. Moore strives to break down the roadblocks we’ve long faced to building a highly qualified early childhood workforce for our nation, as he tells us in Pioneering for the Early Childhood Profession. He also urges us to honor Black History Month this February 2024 by paying tribute to the many Black CDA holders who’ve made Washington, DC, a national leader in early education.

Families need more Black teachers countrywide, as we point out in our white paper, No Child Care, No Work. And Dr. Moore explains their value in his blog, Black Teachers and the Bottom Line. Research has shown that young Black students are less likely to be suspended and more likely to attend gifted classes if they have Black teachers. Seeing a teacher of their own race helps Black children believe they can succeed, too, whatever roadblocks they may face. “Racism is still with us,” as Rosa Parks pointed out. “But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”


Happy Black History Month,
The Council for Professional Recognition


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