While honoring Black history every day remains important, Black History Month provides an opportunity to learn more about, hear from, acknowledge, and show appreciation to the many black leaders and movements that have pushed and continue to push our country forward. We want to help amplify, empower, and celebrate Black voices and experiences in our community that are working to support Black children and youth. Earlier this month, we interviewed Brad Fortune about his experiences as a Black man and educator supporting children in our community.
Where do you work? What do you do?
“I work as the program and behavioral specialist with Alphabest. Alphabest is a S.T.R.E.A.M focused before and after school program, based in over 15 states. Specifically in Colorado, Alphabest works in the Poudre School District elementary schools, with some of those schools being in Wellington and Timanth. Working with children in kindergarten through 5th grade brings its challenges, but also brings excitement and joy for our future.”
Do you want to share any resources, people, or organizations that excel in supporting Black children and youth?
Though Brad acknowledged the exceptional work of programs run by people of color as good representation for children, he emphasized that it’s important for children to experience the world as “real” and diverse as adults do. “I think children and child care should not be segregated, children should be able to see the real world and how diverse it is. I’m wanting to see more representation in child care so children can see that real-world diversity.”
What barriers exist for children of color in our community and beyond?
“There isn’t a lot of available data around the population of people and children of color, so knowing who is around in the community to further support BIPOC children is something lacking.”
What can the community do to help support and empower children of color?
“Social media and phones in general give our community opportunities to connect and see representation. I know events like music festivals, the Bohemian Foundation, and others in our community have seen a lot of diversity and inclusion, which is awesome to see. I try to bring positivity into every aspect of my work. I always want to show that there is positive in the negative.”
Our conversation continued around positivity and allowing children to be that positive change in the world, and Brad shared that his main goal is to show that someone doesn’t have to be a famous athlete or celebrity to have a positive impact on society. Brad describes himself as nerdy, and tries to show kids that if they focus on their passions, no matter what those are, they can help to leave a positive impact and to “leave the world in a better place than it was yesterday.”
What inspires you to get out of bed every morning to continue your work?
“Seeing children, when I can in person of course. I try to make it fun for the kids too, saying Dad jokes, singling out the kids who may be sitting alone and giving them a feeling of trust. All of these are things I try to do to make it fun for them. I try to teach them to be the reflection of change they want to see in the world.”
Are there present or past Black people who inspire you?
“My girlfriend and I have been trying to watch a lot of different movies this month around Black people in history, and we recently watched one about Harriet Tubman, and she was really inspiring to me because she was a soldier. She was one of the first females to control her own army and fight against negativity and slavery. In more modern times, I would say Vice President Kamala Harris. Seeing a female multi-racial VP creating positive change in communities is really inspiring to me.”
We at the ECCLC recognize that the experiences and expertise of the Black community are very often overlooked and unrecognized. We are grateful to Brad for sharing his perspective, and we intend to continue amplifying voices of color not only during Black History Month but all year long. Black voices and expertise in early education are vital to an equitable system that recognizes the value of all children and enables them to thrive.