Our formula seemed strong: expose incriminating school district data in a forum that would also feature students and parents giving powerful testimony from their personal experience.  But pretty quickly we discovered that we had no leverage. None of the school board members were willing to come to the forum. The Superintendent boldly asserted that the issue of discipline reform and our campaign proposals were “dead on arrival.”

We had to make a choice: stick with the moves we knew and escalate our current strategy (e.g., march on the school district headquarters)––or bust out some brand new moves.

We went for the new moves, and won a victory that – multiplied in communities across the country – could deal a serious blow to the school-to-prison pipeline.

The funny thing is, the moves we made weren’t new at all. They were moves that any capoeirista would recognize, moves that echoed the powerful liberatory cultural practice that grew out of the struggles of enslaved Africans and African descendants in Brazil.

...Looking back through a capoeira lens, I can name three key ways that we shifted our approach––three shifts that lay at the heart of our 2013 campaign win.

1) Turn Reaction Into Response

2) Make Flexible Moves

3) Analyze With Cunning

 

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