Educators

She was an educator
She taught the children how to read
Sundays in the South ‘neath that big oak tree
An infant torn from her family
Learned to read up in the city
She knew it was illegal
And she knew that it was right
And when the war was done and the children were all freed
She realized a greater need (1)

He was from Memphis
He walked to Tulsa just to be
Principal at the brand new Booker T. (2)
Just eight years as a high school
The building was spared destruction (3)
So many there took shelter
While the rest of Greenwood burned
Mr. Woods was there when rooms with weary filled
But Black Wall Street did rebuild (4)

He was a black scholar
His mother taught him how to learn
For equity in education he did yearn
A principal in Georgia
And a leader in the Union
Proved black schools could succeed
Just like the white schools across town
For several years now Horace Tate has been gone
But his family carries on (5)

And we’ll teach with them again and again and again
And again and again

She was a history teacher
She taught her students how to wait
Dunjee High School spring of ’58
They sat down at a drug store
In Oklahoma City
Politely at the counter
For a simple bite to eat
Clara Luper taught ’til 1989
And we gladly stand in line (6)

We are the educators
We teach for black lives in our schools (7)
Undoing racist systems in our rules
We believe in public funding
And we believe in unionizing
We believe the Spirit of History
Will guide us in this fight
When privatizers come we’ll stand together strong
And we’ll proudly sing this song (8)

And we’ll organize again and again and again
And again and again
And we’ll organize again and again and again
And again and again (9)

  1. Verse one is loosely based on the lives of Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) and Susie King Taylor (1848-1912).
  2. Legend has it that Booker T. Washington High School’s first principal, E.W. Woods, walked from Memphis to Tulsa to take the new job.
  3. Booker T. Washington High School opened in 1913. The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921.
  4. The height of success of the Greenwood District, Black Wall Street, was the 1940’s.
  5. Horace Tate’s legacy is recounted in “The Lost Education of Horace Tate” by Vanessa Siddle Walker.
  6. Oklahoma public school educators are privileged to teach in the legacy of Clara Luper.
  7. Black Lives Matter at School
  8. The fights for racial justice and against public school privatization are bound together.
  9. Tune is borrowed from “Highwomen” by The Highwomen.

Listen to the song here: “Educators” by Aaron Baker

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