The Defiance of Kumar Rashad

The email heard ’round the state. By Gay Adelmann

To me, Kumar Rashad was a modern day Rosa Parks. He was being reprimanded by the state for the email below.

It was a response he sent to the Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Dr. Wayne Lewis, after he used his bully pulpit email account to once again attempt to gaslight those under his employ into believing that his reasons for being an accomplice to greedy and predatory Governor Bevin’s pursuit of charter schools and deployment of other tools of white supremacy was because he cared about preventing Kentucky’s Black and brown children from falling through the ever-widening and increasingly insurmountable “achievement gaps.” Mr. Rashad’s email sought to clarify the role he, a Black educator at an alternative school in JCPS, saw the commissioner in.

Save Our Schools Kentucky co-founder Lucy Waterbury and I felt it was important to be at Mr. Rashad’s KSB hearing to bear witness, not only to the heroism he exhibited by being a conscientious objector to the oppression that was happening to his profession and the children in his care, but to the elaborate punitive response his defiance would garner from the structurally and institutionally racist system. The phoned-in testimony by the phony victim himself, Commissioner Wayne Lewis, personified the overseer role described in Kumar’s email.

I was unable to obtain a copy of the official audio recording that was captured at Kumar’s hearing. However, I did receive a transcript.

I also made my own audio recording, below:

Kumar Rashad EPSB Hearing Part 1

Kumar Rashad EPSB Hearing Part 2

Here’s a podcast co-hosted by Mr. Rashad and BLM in August of 2020.

Mr. Rashad tried to challenge the status quo when he ran for Vice President of the Jefferson County Teachers Association. We were honored, not only to endorse him, but to interview him for our program last January. Unfortunately, the incumbent candidates loyal to their President declared themselves winners following a campaign riddled with suspicion and scandal. White establishment candidates ran as a slate while condemning less entrenched candidates for the same, and even curried implied endorsements from members of Democratic leadership such as Senator Morgan McGarvey. The election results were challenged by a handful of members, but that challenge was also dead-ended by union leaders who hold all the keys to the vault and are therefore insulated from scrutiny.