Marching for Children and Families

On June 30, a few days before the start of NEA’s Representative Assembly in Minneapolis, thousands of educators from across the country joined in solidarity with activists, Minneapolis-based organizations, and NEA allies at a march to tell President Donald Trump and his administration to stop separating kids from their parents.

The “Families Belong Together” march was in direct response to Trump and his administration’s immigration policies, particularly those that have split parents from their children—children who are then labeled as “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care while their parents are labeled criminals and sent to jail. In April, the Times reported that more than 700 families had been separated since October, including more than 100 children under the age of four.

Minneapolis marchers protest federal immigration policies at the 2018 NEA at the 2018 NEA Representative Assembly. Photo: Calvin Knight

“History is going to remember, and history is going to condemn those who design, those who were complicit, [and] those who were silent in this devastating attack on families,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, during a rally outside the Minneapolis convention center. “We will not be silent.”

“We know what we’re all about,” said Denise Specht, an elementary school teacher and president of Education Minnesota, to a roaring crowd. “We’re about students, kids, and keeping families together…[and] we’re here to tell anyone who stands between children and their families enough!”

With the main rally in Washington, DC, hundreds of marches, protests, and rallies took place in other areas, like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Denver, Miami, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Crowds everywhere called for the immediate reunification of families and an end to family detentions and separations.

Organizers and supporters of the march want the administration to reunite families immediately, end family detentions, and end its zero-tolerance policy.

Educators understand child development and know that such family separations cause irreparable emotional and physical trauma to these boys and girls.

“I don’t believe children should be separated from their families no matter what the situation—unless there’s danger to a child,” says Kimberly Durley, a foreign language high school teacher out of Massachusetts. “I would like to see rallies like these bring to light the inhumane practices of our current administration. If we speak out and are everywhere, they will listen.”

For Eskelsen García, she won’t forget the cruelty of this administration, and will remember in November when she goes to the ballot box. “It took a village to incarcerate and separate these families,” said Eskelsen García. “We will be the village to save them.”