At the end of the 19th Century, the famous Nicaraguan writer, poet and journalist Rubén Darío wrote, “si los perros ladran, Sancho, es señal que cabalgamos,” which translates to, “If dogs are barking, Sancho, it’s a sign that we are galloping forward.”
He wrote it because he was discriminated against, attacked and criticized for his Mestizo heritage. As a result, his intellectual accomplishments, views and ideas were scrutinized and rejected by the influential people who had control in governing.
Darío’s social justice critiques were a threat to the establishment’s status quo, and the type of discrimination faced by revolutionaries like Dario continues today.
I joined Massachusetts Parents United, because I have been concerned and frankly, frustrated with the lack of respect for parent voices (including recently from a professor, perched atop his Ivory Tower, far-removed from the struggles of Latino parents in places like Lawrence and Springfield.)
I am a Latino who migrated to the urban area in Boston, a generation ago. I attended Jamaica Plain High School known as English High today, which was closed down for poor academic performance, an unsafe and hostile environment. My story happened 35 years ago and today not much has changed in the education and safety in these urban areas.
In 2017, Massachusetts Parents United started with a small group of parents meeting in libraries in Dorchester, Lawrence and Springfield – with open and honest conversations about the state of our neighborhoods, fears for our children and frustration with the injustices we face on the streets and in our schools.
So many parents attended our first meetings that we began finding other spaces like the Veronica Robles Center in East Boston and the Cambodian Mutual Society in Lowell.
No one decides for us, or tells us what to think, especially not the academic elitists. We develop our plan ourselves.
Over the past several months we have continued to build and invite more parents to the table, conducted trainings on immigration rights for our families and skills building to help learn how to have better conversations with our children about the violence we see in our neighborhoods and working with police to rebuild relationships and trust. We have been canvassing, phone banking, holding house parties, conference calls and meetings.
Next month, parents will come together during our MPU Parent Summit to vote on the Parent Action Agenda. Delegates from our chapters across the Commonwealth will vote on the priorities we have researched and we’ll be using our united voice and collective power to get things done for our children.
Massachusetts Parents United members are proud of our leader, Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo, an inspirational mother, who fights alongside us for the future of her three young boys. Keri is genuine, passionate, honest, caring, spiritual and outspoken person who doesn’t want to waste time. She knows we have to start acting with a sense of urgency to build safer neighborhoods, strong families and better schools. Keri is in direct contact with parents who have welcomed and embraced her leadership and her constant focus on highlighting the importance of finding common ground and collaboration.
So we’d like to take this time to make it clear: Massachusetts Parents United is our organization and we’re not asking anyone — fancy professors, special interest groups or politicians — for permission to exist.
MPU is an organization that we have literally built together with our bare hands — block by block — by having conversations with our family, friends and neighbors. We do not need permission from anyone to organize together nor do we seek the approval of any outside group to justify our existence. What makes MPU different is our independence — and the fact that the only special interest group we represent is our children. Period.
We are proud to accept the generous support and funding we have received from all of our donors (who have been listed on our website since Day One), and especially our very first donor, the Walton Family Foundation. The Walton Family Foundation believed in our mission from the very beginning and we so grateful for their support.
We are also proud that Chuck Longfield, a son of Boston and former educator who believes that parents have an important role to play and has inspired us to never give up the fight.
If you would like to support our work, please donate here.
We are a 501c3 organization and your contribution is tax deductible.
Rodolfo Aguiar, Dad, MPU Founding Member, Hyde Park, MA
What do you think?