Gwen Samuel – Meriden, CT

Ms. Gwen Eaddy Samuel is a mom on a mission to ensure the safety, education, and overall well-being of all children – regardless of zip-code.

Ms. Samuel has children that attend Connecticut public schools. In addition, she is a  social justice advocate and community relations consultant with a national reach.

In 2017, Ms. Samuel launched an “Urban Experience in Family And Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.) workshop series.  This parent-led Urban Experience workshop series provides educators, administrators, and school support staff with solutions and action-oriented strategies critically needed to build sustainable relationships with parents, families, and communities who are marginalized in the educational system.

In her advocacy role, Ms. Samuel has championed two historical parent empowerment bills that became law in Connecticut.


Favorite MLK quote:

“…It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men…And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems we face”.

 

Why is this your favorite quote?

Our ancestors literally bled and died for our rights as Black folk to vote. So year after year we register and help people get to the polls in November and then there is silence.

Where are the efforts that help our Black communities understand the intersection between public policy/ law, morality, and our community? Everything that provides access to education, housing, employment…is governed by some form of public policy/law!

The very people that kiss our Black babies on the forehead during election season, as they ask us to vote for them, are the very same ones in the rooms of state capitols, throughout the country, during the legislative session, passing laws that continue to oppress us by denying Black folk equitable access to the so-called American Dream – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.

 

When did this quote come to life for you?

On January 6, 2010, when I learned about the California Parent Empowerment Law aka the  Parent Trigger that allowed parents the legal right to improve systemically low performing schools via a petitioning process, I thought the law would be great for Connecticut because first and foremost, it would put parents in more positions of power to help our children gain access to safe high-quality educational experiences  and it would dispel myths that Black, brown and poor parents don’t care about education.
So I introduced the “Parent trigger”  concept to CT lawmakers.
Boy, did I learn the hard way that the status quo was NOT going to allow Black parents access to legal power to help themselves and their children without a fight. It was at the point that I learned that status quo didn’t really care too much if we vote because the power is in the hands of those who are part of creating and amending laws.

Gwen also blogs at Real Talk Gwen Samuel.

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