Sunday is Juneteenth – a day that validates the lived and historical experience of Black Americans and American Descendants of Slavery. For me, it’s also a bittersweet day.  

On one hand, it’s a day to recognize thousands of enslaved people who were notified of their freedom. On the other hand, it is painful to know there were systems and infrastructures in place that intentionally kept people enslaved.  

I recognize Juneteenth by acknowledging those who came before me and honoring the trials and triumphs of their lived experience.  

I also think  about the last legislative session. We all fought so hard to ensure our educators were allowed to teach and students were allowed to learn an accurate history. Understanding the full history, as well as the present-day structure of the United States, means talking about and accurately recounting major Black historical events — and not just during Black History Month. And let me be clear, these aren’t just Black historical events, these are American events. American events that all students have the right to learn.  

I didn’t learn about Juneteenth until college. I believe I ONLY learned in college because I minored in African American studies. My story is sadly not uncommon.   

If you are already planning to learn about Juneteenth or to teach your kids, comment below to share what you’re doing.  

If you need ideas for ways you can recognize and learn about the importance of Juneteenth and how it connects to the present, check out this brief list to get started: 

Websites and articles: 


Listen and Watch: 

The Parent Vision for a More Just and Equitable IPS, which I helped draft, called for the district to grow schools of all types, even ones not currently in the IPS family of schools, that close the opportunity gap.  

In May, I provided the board with copies of over 100 emails from community members and parents like myself. These emails asked IPS leaders to urgently research nearby schools of all types that close the opportunity gaps too many of our schools face and then provide a plan by July to grow those models. We need to do everything we can to partner with schools that close the gap and to learn from the schools where all children are thriving.   


The school my oldest son, Marell, now attends is just one example of a school not currently in the district that is closing the gap. I couldn’t be happier or more pleased with his experience at Paramount. They have offered him opportunities he has never had. He even has a job there for the summer. He is thriving. They awarded him as the most improved student. His teachers tell me he is the hardest working SPED student they have. I am beyond proud of him and am affirmed in my choice to send him to Paramount.  

 If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join me and ask IPS leaders to take action on this parent request with urgency, especially knowing the district could face school consolidations or closures. In my opinion, if there’s a building that can’t be repaired, I hope to see IPS replace that school with a model nearby that can improve the education of children in that neighborhood. We need to make sure any plan to consolidate schools is one that leaves our communities better off.   


Tyre’k Swanigan (he/him) is Stand for Children Indiana’s newly hired organizer. Many advocates and parents associated with Stand Indiana have likely already met Tyre’k. He’s jumped right into his role with Stand Indiana by now co-hosting several workshops.  

Born and raised in Indiana with his parents and older brother, Tyre’k is passionate about students having equitable resources and a voice no matter their race, income level or ZIP code. This passion stems from his own story.  

In the second grade, Tyre’k moved to a new school on the east side of Indianapolis. The following school year, Tyre’k often found himself bored and distracted in class. He was removed from his classroom on several occasions. Looking back, Tyre’k felt there was a lack of representation in his school and the curriculum didn’t challenge him enough. When he repeated the third grade for a second time, at a new school, he was taught by his first Black teacher. He began to feel valued, confident and challenged. To this day, Tyre’k is grateful to that teacher and to his mother who advocated for him when he couldn’t advocate for himself.  

He joins the Stand Indiana with the same hope: to help parents and community members learn how to utilize their voices and make positive change.  Please join us in welcoming him to the team!