During Black History Month, we here at Great School Voices are recognizing the SoBEO Black Excellence Awards honorees.
These folks and organizations have made an indelible imprint on changing the State of Black Education both in Oakland and nationally. We want to provide you all with opportunities to support their work in any way you can, whether it be through financial support, amplification, or simply learning about what they do and joining their movement.
Connie Williams grew up going to Oakland public schools and graduated from McClymonds High without ever learning how to read. Now Connie is an amazing literacy and education advocate and a parent leader with The Oakland REACH.
What did receiving a SoBEO award this year mean to you?
Receiving the SoBEO Fierce Parent Award was such an honor. I feel so emotional; it makes me remember Rachel and that gives me happy and sad tears. I also feel grateful to be recognized.
What are the critical aspects of your work that you want to share with our readers?
The main thing I want others to walk away with, is to never give up! Everyone needs to believe in themselves and to fight for what they need and want! People out there will deny you of your value — don’t let them! When you face hardship, know that we are not alone. When you are out there working hard, someone else can be going through the exact same things. Make sure you support each other.
What is your vision for your work in the coming year?
My work is ongoing, I won’t stop making sure that my grandchildren’s education and their needs are met. I was fighting for my grandkids to be transferred to a school that would be better for them, but even after so much fighting to get them to that school, the school was still failing them. So I had to fight and push for them to get into the specific programs they needed. I started blogging about it all and found out I wasn’t alone in this. This year is more of this fight. More of working together. And more of asking for what my grandkids need to thrive.
How can readers best support your work?
If this work sounds important to anyone, please support The Oakland REACH. I began volunteering with them and they were so helpful in giving me so many tools and resources I need to fight for my grandkids. Go and visit The Oakland REACH yourself if you need help. Their doors are always open.