Books for Aspiring Black Male Teachers: We Dare Say Love

Are you a Black man thinking of a career in teaching? You’ll want to read this book!

When boys participating in this year’s I AM KING mentoring program opened their workbooks and read the welcome letter from He is Me’s Founder & CEO Robert J. Hendricks III, they saw that he signed it “Love, Robert.”

We Dare Say Love tells the story of a district-wide program in Oakland, CA. that shares the same values, beliefs about Black boys’ potential, high expectations for their future, respect for their innate intelligence, and love that are the foundation on which He is Me Institute is built. 

We Dare Say Love tells the story of Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) African American Male Achievement Initiative (AAMAI), launched in 2010. At the time, it was the only program of its kind in the United States. Its founders, a small group of Black male educators determined to disrupt the status quo for their Black male students, called their approach “a pedagogy of care.”  They put their hearts as well as their heads into the effort and were able to transform the school experience for the Black boys in the district’s 14 schools.

The book shares rituals, beliefs, and practices that created a classroom environment that held high expectations for the engagement and achievement of Black boys, creating the space they need to blossom. And they did! After five years, statistics among OUSD’s Black male students were dramatically different, and those trends continue. Black boys’ attendance rates and graduation rates have increased, suspension rates have decreased, more Black boys are enrolled in advanced classes, and many more have enrolled in postsecondary education. AAMAI has become a model for other school districts. 

Kingmakers of Oakland is an offshoot of the AAMAI established to spread the model of “pedagogy of care” to other West Coast school districts. According to its website, “Kingmakers trains teachers and facilitators to utilize our African-centered and culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum with students in their classrooms. This learning community collaborates inter-district and cross-district by grade level to share, plan, build and implement safe learning environments.”  Kingmakers provides customized curriculum, technical support, and training and consulting to school districts inspired by AAMAI’s success. They include San Francisco Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and the Puget Sound Educational Service District. 

He is Me Institute stands in solidarity with AAMAI and Kingmakers as we bring our own signature programs to schools every year to “quietly” confront and disrupt the culture of inequity and low expectations that boys of color have been subjected to in public schools.

I AM KING is our after-school mentoring program where Black college men interested in a teaching career serve as mentors to boys of color. They mentor boys for 24 weeks, and receive a $200 stipend a month for ten months. Mentors  deliver He is Me’s unique social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, I AM KING, to boys of color. It centers on Black male identity, teachers the five primary SEL competencies, and includes a literacy component. I AM KING is a first time teaching experience for mentors, and for the mentees, it is likely to be a first-time experience with a Black male teacher. (For more information about bringing I AM KING to your school district or school, click here.)

He is Me’s other signature program is the Reclaiming Our Identity course, a 10-month online course for aspiring or practicing Black male teachers. It is also a unique curriculum developed by He is Me, centering on Black male identity, specifically exploring their identity as students and teachers. It explores the history of education inequity that has pervaded the U.S. education system from the 1600s until today. It also teaches the basics of pedagogy through the lens of the African American teacher. (To learn more about bringing Reclaiming Our Identity to your school’s faculty or your college’s Black male students, click here.

For further information:

WELCOME to the Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement

Kingmakers of Oakland


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