Family engagement breakfast puts focus on Black parent involvement


Akira Copeland

PTSA President Vanessa Isabell stressed the importance of black families getting involved with the school.

From Staff Reports

Najee Ladd-Ali delivers the keynote speech at Cleveland’s Black Family Breakfast on Feb. 10. This was the school’s first event geared specifically toward black families

It was a family affair on Feb. 10, as Cleveland held its first event catered to Black families. The Black Family Breakfast was hosted by Cleveland’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) and the Black Student Union (BSU) ahead of the national Black Family Engagement Day on Feb. 12.

The event was an opportunity for black families to learn more about how to support their students and each other. It was also a time for parents to share what they want from the school and how CHS can do better in supporting the black students and families.

“It gives black students and parents a chance to voice their opinions and show their support for Cleveland,” said senior Nyaila Flight, an active member of BSU.

Although Cleveland is roughly 93 percent students of color and the PTSA board members are all women of color, the participation among black families has been low. PTSA president Vanessa Isabell stressed to the attendees the importance of people of color showing up and getting involved. Her son, Myles Howard, is a senior at Cleveland.

The event was made possible after PTSA Vice President Connie So won a $400 grant that was designated for Black family engagement. Cleveland’s Family Engagement Action Team (FEAT) was brought on board to help with the planning. Teresa Scribner, the PTSA secretary, help produce a video featuring members of BSU. She said she hoped the event would be a wake-up call for black parents and students.

“There are only three Black classroom teachers at Cleveland,” Scribner said. “We can’t do all the heavy lifting on our own. We need Black parents to be present for their students, and not just at home but also in the classroom, on the PTSA … We need them to be a visible force.”

Members of BSU feel that the Black Family Breakfast is one of the best steps Cleveland has taken to getting black voices heard. Howard said that having everyone be able to have their voices heard would be important.

“We can break false assumptions and be clear about what’s necessary for black students in Cleveland,” he said.

Nearly 70 people showed up for the event, which featured Najee Ladd-Ali as the keynote speaker. He opened up his speech with a powerful poem entitled, “God Is My Medicine.”

Benet Sparks and Brandon Teeny contributed to the reporting of this story.