Portland Trail Blazers: The Key to the Golden Door

“Education Reform” is necessary for minorities to thrive. Current and former Portland Trail Blazers players choose to wear these words to raise awareness.

Based on their recent social justice statement selection for their jerseys, Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum and former Blazer Kent Bazemore realize the key to liberation is education—much like Nat Turner.

After a slave revolt in 1831 led by Turner, a black American slave, many slave states passed laws against teaching slaves to read and write. There was a fear that literacy would encourage slaves to plan revolts and mass escapes.

Turner, who was literate, confirmed those fears. His actions led to legislation prohibiting education, movement, and assembly of slaves. Many supporters of slavery saw the power of education.

McCollum and Bazemore recently decided to emphasize that power by choosing “Education Reform” to wear on the back of their uniforms when the NBA resumes on July 30.

Quality education can change the world. According to the Global Partnership for Education, an organization that supports developing countries to ensure every child receives a quality education, 420 million people worldwide would be lifted from poverty with secondary school.

“I’m big on education. I think that’s important,” McCollum told NBA news media earlier this week. “It’s something that we lack, especially in certain communities, the Black community and people of color, communities where kids are at a disadvantage.”

The educational disadvantage for minorities has been a problem for centuries in the U.S. For over 100 years, schools were legally segregated, and minorities had less than quality education and resources.

After schools were finally desegregated in the 1970s, they became resegregated through school districts purposefully moving district lines—gerrymandering—and domestic government policies to segregate low-income families from high-income neighborhoods. Most minority students today attend high-poverty, segregated schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Property taxes typically fund school districts. If a neighborhood is wealthy, its schools have money for better resources and better teachers. Conversely, high-poverty schools in poor communities receive less money to pay for quality resources and teachers.

School resources are associated with higher student achievement, according to education research organization Learning Policy Institute. Ensuring that low-income students get quality resources can improve their performance and graduation rates.

Additionally, teachers have the highest impact on student achievement, according to research corporation Rand. If a teacher is effective, the students perform better.

Access to quality education matters. The education system for minorities is broken and needs to be reformed.

McCollum and Bazemore recognize that truth and are using their platforms to say we need to do something about it.

There has been a concerted effort to thwart the success of minorities in the United States for centuries. “Education Reform” underscores the message that minorities can be freed from impoverished, disadvantaged lives through education.

“Education is the key to the golden door of freedom.” – George Washington Carver

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