Aimée Eubanks Davis Speaks On Her ‘After 1954’ Podcast, Her Educational Background, & Her Nonprofit Braven

Aimée Eubanks Davis Speaks On Her 'After 1954' Podcast, Her Educational Background, & Her Nonprofit Braven

Aimée Eubanks Davis speaks with VannDigital about her “After 1954” podcast, her background in education, and her nonprofit Braven.

A while back, VannDigital ran the first episode of Lemonada Media’s new podcast “After 1954” which focused on life in education after the historical Brown v Board of Education case.

Today, the host of said podcast–Aimée Eubanks Davis–takes the time out to speak with us about her educational journey, her Braven nonprofit, and the podcast itself.

You can give what was discussed and more a read plus drop feedback in the comment box below…

VannDigital: What’s going on?

Aimée Eubanks Davis: I’m really excited for listeners to hear what we’ve been working on! It’s not widely known that after Brown v Board of Education in 1954, an estimated 38,000 Black teachers in the South were fired with the attempts to integrate public schools. During this five-series podcast, we’re pulling back the curtain on the lasting impact of the decisions made in the aftermath of that landmark case, how public schools in many cities remain segregated to this day, and where we go next.

How did you end up hosting the “After 1954” podcast?

I was named a 1954 Luminary last year. The 1954 Project is an initiative of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (CAFE) to embrace and advance Black leadership in the education sector. Liz Thompson, who leads the CAFE, invited me to host the podcast and I willingly accepted.

What made you want to get into education?

Early on, I recognized that my life could have ended up drastically different. As my parents found economic success over time with a real estate business they started, they moved us to a more affluent neighborhood for a public high school that had won national acclaim as a “blue ribbon” school. I noticed very early on in my life that the opportunities available to Black young people like me and my three siblings were largely determined by a family’s economic resources versus the young person’s talent. With the move from the city to the suburbs, I never thought it was fair that my friends from Chicago didn’t have the same access, even though they were equally as talented. My personal experience led me to want to give back to Black students, which is why I joined Teach For America after graduating from college and taught 6th graders in New Orleans. And, I’ve never looked back–from the moment I stepped into the classroom as a young Black teacher, I felt my unique value. My students’ parents and caregivers told me this, and most of the time so did my students in their own adolescent ways [laughter]. Lately, I’ve been watching “Abbott Elementary”. The main character, Ms. Teagues, reminds me a lot of who I was and what I believed when I first started out in education. I’ve been in the education sector ever since.

How did your nonprofit, Braven, come about?

Years after teaching my first set of 6th graders and then working with middle schoolers for a long time afterwards, I noticed that my high-achieving students who graduated from some of the best colleges and universities were struggling to land strong jobs upon graduation, even at Teach For America where I then led the people, diversity, and equity work. To be clear, this wasn’t due to a lack of talent and/or hard work. They had done everything right and had earned the right to a strong, first job. What they lacked, which was not their fault, was the exposure to the skills, mindsets, and most importantly the network that translates into social capital. When it comes to jobs, who you know matters mightily, but who knows you matters even more.

Through a fellowship I did, I started a paper that grew into an obsession on the lost talent in our country and realized that my former students weren’t alone. This was a far bigger problem: millions of students from humble beginnings graduated from college and still were not on the path to the American promise. There was no knight on a horse of any color coming to help this group of students at amazing, but often constrained in their resources, minority serving institutions with the career prep to land strong, first jobs.

Braven was born to help address this huge, but in my opinion solvable, gap. In partnership with higher ed and employers across the country, Braven empowers students like my former 6th graders and others like them on the path to exponential economic mobility and the expanded opportunities that emerge as a result.

What can listeners look forward to on future episodes of “After 1954”?

Listeners can look forward to learning more about the legacy and impact of Black educators. Every episode is this beautiful mix of a history lesson, a reminder of the critical role Black educators play in their students’ lives, and also the unintended consequences we have to guard against, even when breaking down barriers that should create more educational excellence and equity for Black children. Every episode will feature a conversation between a person and a Black leader in education who impacted their life, showing how important it is for Black kids to have Black educators and role models. You will feel joy, pride and might also cry. The impact is palpable. I believe listeners will feel compelled to play a role in attracting and retaining more Black educators back up to and well over level the 38,000 level that were fired. It will be clear that for the health of our Black students and the country we need to do everything possible to have the ranks of Black educators swell, not shrink.

You can give the first episode of the “After 1954” podcast a listen here on VannDigital plus give future episodes a listen via Lemonada Media