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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusivity at Headwaters

Civil Rights Day

Civil Rights Day at Headwaters School

As a school community dedicated to advocacy and peacemaking, we educate our students about the world around them and its history. Part of that learning comes from events and activities that reaffirm our commitment to peace education as can be seen in the school’s Purpose statement to "cultivate identity formation, foster empathy, and embrace diversity to bring more peace to the world."

Each January, Headwaters School programs explore civil rights in age-appropriate ways. At the Springs Campus, our youngest children engage with books and songs all year long that celebrate different perspectives, and for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s  birthday month, they learn special songs about Dr. King and his work. On the Creek Campus, classrooms incorporate projects, songs, books, and lessons to help children in their growth. And on the River Campus, a tradition has grown to have a full-day event dedicated to civil rights including a film screening, a keynote speaker, and multiple student- and parent-led sessions about civil rights topics.

River Civil Rights Day 2021

For this year's Civil Rights Day, the planning started early for a full day of virtual learning and connection. On Wednesday, January 27, the River Campus Community will join together virtually for a film screening, a guest speaker, and sessions led by students, guides, and parents.
This year, Headwaters’ River Campus Community has chosen the theme Black Lives Matter (BLM) as our focus for Civil Rights Day. As a community, we understand that both this theme and statement are neither controversial nor political.
Our support of BLM is rooted in the language of our mission, specifically as we view ourselves as Advocates. Indeed, as members of the Headwaters community, our foundational language outlines that “we strive to understand and value diverse perspectives, cultures, and faiths. We recognize our agency and act with integrity in pursuit of a more just and equitable society.”

Please use the drop down menus below to learn more.

List of 3 items.

  • Historical Roots of BLM

    In order to understand the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement (also known as Black Lives Matter Global Movement), it is imperative that we recognize that the roots of BLM extend far beyond its founding in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. We must understand how our country’s well-documented history of racial inequality has planted the seeds that have borne fruit in BLM. This 21st century reaction to inequality--including generational wealth gaps, redlining, unequal access to healthcare, unequal treatment by healthcare professionals, unequal access to comparable education, pervasive food deserts, voter disenfranchisement, the history of policing throughout the United States and inequitable treatment and sentencing outcomes in courts of law, as well as the broken, unfulfilled promises of the 1960’s Civil Rights era (this list is not exhaustive), has coalesced into a movement that demands that we, as human beings, take stock of and responsibility for dismantling systemic injustices and inequities. It behooves us as a community to: 1) understand the history of inequity that has led to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement; 2) understand our local history and the ways in which BLM manifests itself in Austin; 3) grow in our role as allies and supporters of BLM and understand the ways in which we can contribute to a more just and equitable society.
  • What Does Black Lives Matter Stand For

    The Black Lives Matter movement is rooted in guiding principles to affirm that All Black Lives Matter. Those principles are: 
    1. Restorative Justice
    2. Empathy
    3. Loving Engagement
    4. Diversity
    5. Globalism
    6. Queer Affirming
    7. Trans Affirming
    8. Collective Value
    9. Intergenerational
    10. Black Families
    11. Black Villages
    12. Unapologetically Black
    13. Black Women
  • Understanding the Purpose and Power Behind the Phrase “Black Lives Matter”

    As Alicia Garza (2014) explained, "#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important–it means that Black lives, which are seen as without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation. Given the disproportionate impact state violence has on Black lives, we understand that when Black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide reaching and transformative for society as a whole.” 

    Lizz Schumer (2020) offered an succinct explanation of why “All Lives Matter” serves as a dismissive and problematic response to “Black Lives Matter”:
    While the intention of the phrase "All Lives Matter" may be to put everyone’s life on equal footing and convey a sense of unity, responding "All Lives Matter" to "Black Lives Matter" is actually more divisive than unifying. That's because it discounts and diminishes the focus on the violence and discrimination Black individuals face every day in this country.
    Think of it this way: If you get into a car crash and one person has a 
    serious head injury but the others have a few bumps and bruises, the person whose life is at risk gets first priority when it comes to medical care. That doesn’t mean paramedics won’t help the rest of the passengers, but that triage places the most dire situation first in line. Or, to look at it another way, if someone keeps setting your house on fire, you'd want firefighters to do something about it. Wouldn't it upset you if instead, people kept telling you that "all houses matter equally," if yours was the one burning?

    Affirming that “Black Lives Matter” aligns oneself with the promise of both our foundational and national language, and acknowledges that we, as individuals, have agency in how we treat one another, in what we demand from our leaders, and in how we move forward at the city, state, and national levels.

River Civil Rights Day 2021 Schedule of Events

For this year's event, we will be meeting virtually to explore our theme of Black Lives Matter through film, speakers, and sessions. 
Dr. Peniel Joseph

Headwaters School is excited to welcome Dr. Peniel Joseph as our guest speaker. Dr. Joseph holds joint professorship in both the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the History Department in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values. 

Dr. Josephs career focus has been on "Black Power Studies"  and he brings his expertise to UT. While at UT, he became the founding director of the LBJ School's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

In addition to his role at the school, Dr. Joseph is an award winning author. His topics often cover issues of race, democrazy, and civil rights. His latest book is The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Joseph!

Here is the schedule for the day:
9:00am      Advisory Groups Opening Meeting
9:15am       Film discussion groups intro meeting
9:30am      Film screenings
11:45am     Lunch
12:15pm    Guest speaker Pitso
1:10pm       Film discussion groups
1:50pm      Breakout session groups #1
2:30pm      Breakout session groups #2
3:10pm     Closing Pitso

Click here to view the two afternoon session topics.

Students and community members will find a full schedule a Zoom links provided to them via mail and in their Nest calendars the week of the event. 

Headwaters Civil Rights Day History

Springs Campus

Songs are an incredible way to tell a story for our youngest students. A tradition on the Springs Campus is to host Singing Songs in January with a focus on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Along with their guides, the children are practicing singing and signing several songs that honor the peace and connection that Dr. King promoted in his work.

Historically, we invite parents to join us on the playground as we sing these songs, in the spirit of continuing our work for a world of unity and peace

Creek Campus

The Creek Campus has focused our Civil Rights Day conversations and lessons on the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the discriminatory and racist practices that led to the movement, and the brave people who stood up for their beliefs. The reality is that while it is important to continue to study our history, many of the causes that people fought for in the 1960s remain unresolved. Civil Rights movements exist today because there is still work to be done and changes that need to be made so that all people are treated fairly. Students on this campus are constantly engaging in peace education, but each January, there is a special focus on Civil Rights and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

River Campus

In 2020, guest speaker and Executive Director of the Austin Justice Coalition Chas Moore spoke to our community and beyond at the Central Library.

In 2019, guest speaker and civil rights leader Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez spoke at the Central Library. 

In 2018, we welcomed Lewis Conway Jr., a local civil rights leader, to campus for our guest speech and welcomed local musician Tree G a moving musical performance. They stared the day with a screening at the Ritz of The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

In 2017 and before, the River Campus would hold a afternoon teach-in comprised of sessions related to MLK, civil rights, social justice, and community activism.

MLK Day of Service

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday in 2020, we invited families to join us the afternoon of Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a family service event with our friends from Generation Serve. There were various group projects on the Creek Campus for all Headwaters families and ages to participate. In 2020, we created 
  • 130 Cards for Cards for Hospitalized Kids
  • 8 Blankets for For Every Child, Inc.
  • 64 Decorated Snack Bags for Communities in School Central Texas
  • 130 T-Shirt Bags for Central Health
  • 214 Hygiene Kits made for Trinity Church of Austin 

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278