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Kitzmiller and Burton Word Cloud

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Less than 24 hours after police murdered George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protesters organized in several cities to demand that their elected officials defund their police and redirect this funding to better healthcare, schools, public transportation, affordable housing, and food security. Eventually, these protesters came together in rural communities and towns to push for similar demands. Journalists documented these protests, highlighting both the similarities and differences in these places and protests. This article directly addresses the oversights and stereotypes that many of these articles promoted through a careful analysis of the experiences of two rural youth—a Black, Puerto Rican young woman and a Black, Dominican young man—as the Black Lives Matter protests unfolded in their predominantly white small town. In doing so, this study illustrates the threat of visibility that rural youth experience and how this threat shaped their decision to participate or not participate in the protests.

Chambers et al. Word Cloud

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The emotional labor of organizing, leading, or participating in campus protests may affect Black students’ involvement in social justice activism at rural, predominantly White, higher education institutions. In this study, we examined the experiences and reflections of three Black students who engaged in a Black Lives Matter-inspired protest at a rural, public, historically White regional university in the South. We used a narrative design approach and critical race counter-storytelling methods to present an account of a peaceful protest organized by the students. The counter-stories we present demonstrate both the courage and costs of activism engagement for Black students at a historically White, rural university. We conclude with providing ways in which university personnel and stakeholders in rural communities can stand in solidarity with students to heighten their voices and desires to render societal change.

Niño and Perez-Diaz Word Cloud

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The purpose of this study was to explore how social unrest in the United States, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic deaths of Black people at the hands of police, have transformed the leadership and pedagogy of school leaders in three rural school districts in southwest Texas. The strategies used to collect data for this study included semi-structured Zoom interviews, reflective journals, and class reflections. Findings from this study highlight how COVID-19 and racial unrest in the United States have centered the commitment of the participants to embrace a pedagogy that is more responsive to the students they serve. Additionally, current events have sensitized educators to be more empathetic toward the community they serve as educators. Implications of this study include that educators and leaders should become social justice advocates and strive to become allies against systemic oppression.

Grant-Panting Word Cloud

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8 minutes and 46 seconds. This was the amount of time it took me to watch George Floyd, an unarmed Black man be murdered at the hands of the police. While George Floyd’s death was not the first Black murder to happen while in police custody or in 2020, his death served as a catalyst that reignited something in me, millions of around the globe, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. While the nation focused on the impact of BLM movement in urban communities, the impact in rural communities was left from the conversation. Rural communities have a complex history of systemic racial, social, educational, and economic inequality, and because of these histories they are uniquely situated to respond to racial inequality in meaningful and authentic ways. Even so, as a Black woman, trained sociologist, and educator situated in a rural, conservative, predominately White community in Texas, organizing and engaging the public in racial justice work has challenges. However, through coordinated and specific efforts it is possible to mobilize the community for change. This essay reflects on those efforts. Drawing on public pedagogy frameworks that explore public educational sites, W. E. B. Du Bois’s public sociology, scholar-activist “liberation capital” theory, I try to make sense of applying these perspectives as a tool for engaging my rural town in the BLM movement. Through my observations, reflections, and analysis, I hope to provide practical methods and tools for scholars, researchers, and rural community members that center on how to engage each other and ultimately create capacity for impactful organizing on racial equity in rural communities.

Seelig and McCabe Word Cloud

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Teacher retention studies often focus on why teachers leave the profession, but this article suggests that focusing on why teachers stay situates rural school and community assets as the foundation to reform. The research design is a collective case study of three rural Wisconsin school districts, and findings are based on interviews and focus groups with 44 teachers and six administrators. Our study’s findings reveal the centrality of relationships to teachers’ decisions to stay in their rural schools. We present four relationship categories: (a) commitment to students, (b) opportunities for leadership and collaboration, (c) connections to community, and (d) personal and professional ties. Our study suggests the need for a conceptual reframing, or a new way of thinking, in research on teacher retention. Practical implications for addressing rural teacher retention are also surfaced, suggesting a new way of “doing” that situates school-community relationships at the center.