Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

I’m thrilled with the depth of this candidate pool and impressed with every candidate’s passion and good intentions. They are standing before us volunteering their time and souls to service on the school board. And they’re opening themselves up to everything that comes along with that process, including being considered by people like me who have thoughts and opinions. But the fact also remains that we have to choose one person, and that we don’t get to just take the whole field.

So, as we seek an equity champion, a change-maker with an unshakable sense of urgency and possibility and love, a hero with an understanding of the relationship between systemic oppression and public education, here are my first impressions of the candidates — my takeaways from the District VII Candidate Forum. I look forward to seeing how tonight’s forum at RBHS shapes my thinking even further.

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Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

Over the weekend, the Seattle School Board finally released the applications of the 12 Southeast Seattle residents who filed to replace Betty Patu on the board. The District 7 seat, which Patu held for 10 years, was vacated July 1 and will be filled when the six remaining board members cast votes for their preferred applicant at the Aug. 14 board meeting.

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A quick thought about the Seattle School Board

This is the year, if there ever was one, to really change Seattle Public Schools. In addition to the four seats up for election this fall, two additional school board members in Seattle (Betty Patu and Zachary DeWolf) have announced their desire to resign this year and vacate their seats early.

The school board only has seven members to begin with. By the end of this year, we could essentially have a completely new school board. I've written more about this that I'll share tomorrow, but I just want to plant the seed for now.

Our school board has been a dysfunctional roadblock to change for too long. Imagine six new champions for equity filling these school board seats. Think of what's suddenly possible!

This is a rare opportunity. Let's make the most of it.

Black History Today: Marcus Harrison Green, voice for the Southend

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."


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By Marcus Harden

In an era in which truth is under attack for what is comfortable, authenticity is sometimes seen as weakness, and recollection of the facts as heralded as “fake news.” Those that still want to stand for what is true, what is authentic and what is good are in great number, yet often lack the platform — and sometimes the courage — to stand in those values.

Marcus Harrison-Green has embodied and championed those values for the last few years. Born in the legendary Southend of Seattle, Marcus (what a glorious first name) attended private schools — often as the ‘only’ Black student — and upon graduation from high school he attended California Lutheran University.

While at CLU Marcus experienced what many do when they “get out” and find themselves in predominantly dominated culture spaces. He was the token Black student in a place he says believed in “Reagan, Money and God...in that order.”  Upon graduating Marcus walked down the path many are told to travel: get a good job, stash your money and live happily ever after.

However, Marcus’ happily and ever-after weren’t connected to working in a small investment firm, having a nice house and driving a nice car. His happily-ever-after was connected to writing — specifically telling the stories of the communities and the people who often hadn’t had their stories told properly.

Marcus made one of the most courageous and impactful decisions of his life when he walked away from it all, packed his life up and moved back in with his parents to begin the journey of writing about others’ journeys while living his own. In 2014 Marcus founded the South Seattle Emerald, to explore the lives and stories that were true to the people he knew and interacted with everyday, behind the headline sensationalism that often depicts Southeast Seattle.

Since that time Marcus has helped steward the Emerald to be a viable source for reliable storytelling and news in Seattle. In 2018, Marcus took that experience with him to the Seattle Times to promote that same voice and energy of the Southend to the greater Seattle region.

Marcus’ greatest story, though, may he his own, opening up about his battles with mental health, self love and self worth. The courageous nature of a man who shares others’ stories of triumph and trial with the world, openly sharing his own, true leadership and truly newsworthy.

Marcus has had an odyssey that has taken him on a journey of self-discovery and examination that have led to his gifts manifesting in service of his community. Lois Lane once said about her famous reporter friend Clark Kent, “That's the thing about heroes. No matter how brightly you shine the light on them, they always want to stay in the shadows."

Marcus Harrison-Green is a hero who prefers the shadows, but deserves the spotlight. He is a voice for the voiceless, for the community in the community, and that among many reasons is why Marcus Harrison-Green is Black History, today!


To learn more about Marcus:  https://www.seattletimes.com/author/marcus-green/






Upendo!

-MLH

Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Lull Mengesha, inspiring innovator and influencer

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
-Will Smith


Living life fearlessly and authentically are values often espoused but rarely actualized. Not because people don’t have the desire or the skill, but oftentimes because we’ve rarely paid attention to the people who have done it. To live absent of fear is almost impossible, yet to choose to live a life allowing your fears to fuel your passions and doing it in a way that inspires to do so as well — that’s authentic living!

Lull Mengesha lives authentically and fearlessly! Born to immigrant parents in Seattle, raised in the glorious South End, proud alumni of Rainier Beach High School and later the University of Washington, Lull has never been afraid to embrace thinking and being different. Lull began to discover his fearlessness as an undergrad at the UW, beginning to openly challenge his own thinking and the shortcomings of systems, specifically for African-American people and people from the African diaspora.

Lull’s strength coming in his nature to engage others across difference in those conversations, questioning not only the systems of oppression but people who have been oppressed themselves, realizing early that the breaking down of one requires the empowerment of the other.

In 2009, Lull penned his first book, The Only Black Student,” exploring life as a Black student navigating the public education space in a majority Black school, and then learning how to navigate life and academics at a college that was predominantly white. Fearless in his honesty and introspection, Lull used his life to create an actionable workbook for others to follow.

Lull’s greatest attribute may indeed lay in his fearlessness to just be. Whether gracing the stage at a local comedy shop, writing a screenplay, hosting a vegan Eritrean food talent showcase, exploring and bringing new technology and thought products to market, or just Snap-chatting his Uber driver journey to a $39 Spirit Airlines flight to parts unknown, Lull’s commitment to truly LIVING inspires others to do the same.

At his best, Lull brings the environment of authentic thought, fearless living everywhere he goes, and through his constant joy pushes others to the possibility of the same for themselves. He is unafraid to challenge the status quo because he is unafraid to challenge himself. He’s a son who honors his mother, cherishes his sister and truly is a friend to all.

Lull gives of his time, talent and treasure in ways seen and unseen. Fear looks Lull in the face and lowers its gaze because it knows as we all do now that Lull Mengesha is indeed Black History, today!

To learn more about Lull: https://www.amazon.com/Only-Black-Student-Lull-Mengesha/dp/0578023091

Upendo!

-MLH



Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

I want to thank all who allowed me to honor and showcase them for Black History Month. The daily posts started as just a personal letter to people whom I believe to be truly amazing. We often wait too long to tell people what we think of them and their effects on us and our lives.

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Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

I've mostly kept quiet about the Parkland shooting, because it feels like the last thing we need is more empty words or more voices shouting angrily into the abyss. Today, though, I find I have something to say.

This nonsense about arming teachers is a distraction, and we need to stop giving it the time of day. If the people clamoring to give teachers guns were serious, they would be working on legislation. They would be taking action in some way. But they're not. They're using the ridiculous idea of arming schoolteachers to keep us on the defensive, to keep us worried that things might get even worse, which keeps us from working as single-mindedly on real solutions and real change.

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Black History Today: Three brilliant, bold, beautiful women unapologetically rooted in Blackness

Black History Today: Three brilliant, bold, beautiful women unapologetically rooted in Blackness

Recent pop culture has placed Black Women at the forefront of the conversation, showcasing their abilities to be beautiful, bold, brilliant, unapologetically rooted in blackness — and of course to be what they’ve always been: Heroes.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in the Pacific Northwest, there are three women who are the real-life embodiment of the Dora Milaje or the adored ones.

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Black History Today: Jerrell Davis, an unsung revolutionary

Black History Today: Jerrell Davis, an unsung revolutionary

Many people speak of narrative change but are often afraid to be in the trenches. It takes an ecosystem to create change, yet often times those who are the champions for and by the people get overlooked, their revolutionary presence lost in photo ops and small victories.

Yet it was once said that you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution. One man that embodies the revolutionary and the revolution is Jerrell G. Davis.

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Black History Today: Letta Mason, living her purpose of liberation through education

Black History Today: Letta Mason, living her purpose of liberation through education

Rarely in life do you meet people whom you instantly know are one-of-a-kind, authentic and unique in their presentation, passion, purpose, performance and personhood.

Yet when you meet these people, whether you know it or not, their energy completely transforms your life. One of those people is Letta S. Mason.

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Black History Today: Keith B. Wheeler, sharing his message of H.O.P.E.

Black History Today: Keith B. Wheeler, sharing his message of H.O.P.E.

From the streets of Seattle that many don’t even know exist, to finding himself at Washington State University (the one mistake we can’t forgive him for 😂), to becoming a teacher on the rise back home in the neighborhoods he walked, realizing that there was more and a call to his life.

Keith B. Wheeler now lives in the hope that he espouses, traveling the country and giving to others the gift that has been given to him, never stopping short of acknowledging his own flaws and blemishes, while making sure to point out that it's those things that make us unique.

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Black History Today: Caine Lowery, authentic teacher and humble learner

Black History Today: Caine Lowery, authentic teacher and humble learner

“What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”

Many have said that it’s the respect from your peers, no matter the profession, that matters the most.

When I think about men who teach not just from the book but from who they are, full in their authenticity and growth, and inspire students, families and staff, Caine Lowery is one of the first that comes to mind.

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Black History Today: Rev. David Hardy, Sr., an everyday neighborhood hero

Black History Today: Rev. David Hardy, Sr., an everyday neighborhood hero

I deeply believe that your life has to be a reflection of your values and beliefs. That’s truly the only “legacy” we have. It's what living every day is about.

One of the idols who exemplified and taught me that powerful lesson was Rev. David Hardy, Sr.

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The Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards: Honoring a Handful of 2017's Local Heroes

The Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards: Honoring a Handful of 2017's Local Heroes

Welcome one and all to the first semi-annual, fully manual Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards. Thank you for being here, wherever that may be.

These awards were created by me as a way to recognize a handful of Washingtonians who deserve a few extra hand-claps for the way their work and their way of life contributed to positive change in 2017.

The judging process was stringent and unscientific. I created the categories to suit my fancies, and I’ve awarded fake awards to whatever number of people I please. By the end, I’ll have failed to mention just about everyone, so if you find you've been omitted, don’t despair. The pool of nominees was limited to people I know about and managed to think of while writing this, and as a periodic shut-in, that’s not as long a list of names as you might think. For instance, I only finally discovered a few months ago that Chance the Rapper is amazing, if that gives you some idea. So, if you or someone you know has been egregiously overlooked, please get in touch with me and I’m sure I’d be happy to make up some new awards in the near future.

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