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The Origins of Systemic Racism:  A Course on America’s Racial History and Its Connection to Current Events

Since the murder of George Floyd and many others, many have become newly aware of  “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.” This virtual course will deepen your understanding of these issues, expand your capacity to lead others in understanding them and offer you simple structures for facilitating compassionate race and equity focused conversations in your workplace and beyond. 


Our lens in this course is focused on just one aspect of our nation’s multi-cultural history - the Black experience in America following the Civil War. And this course is just one piece of the complex work of understanding racial inequity in schooling in order to address it. Front Range BOCES’ facilitation team has the capacity to offer other courses and workshops in this domain in response to member districts’ interests.

The Origins of Systemic Racism course is designed for a multi-racial/multi-ethnic cohort of district and school leaders who are committed to increasing their capacity to lead for culturally responsive transformation in their own settings.  As a participant you will:


  • Learn about the relatively unexamined history of Reconstruction in the South and residential segregation in the North following the end of the Civil War, including the origin of segregated schools.

  • Identify important connections between that history, current events and racial inequities in schools.

  • Participate in structured reflection and dialogue protocols about this history that will deepen your self-understanding and enhance your capacity to lead compassionate and honest conversations about the history of racism in America.


The course revolves around a set of five PBS documentaries on Reconstruction and its aftermath in the South as well as the residential segregation policies developed in the North during the first half of the 20th century.  This series of films will make clear the links between the past and present regarding the complexities of race in America. They will deepen your knowledge of the post-slavery policies and practices that baked racial segregation into US society in ways that were not undone by Civil Rights legislation. It will unpack the mechanisms of systemic racism and explore the dynamics of the racial wealth gap so that you understand and can explain how we got to where we are. 


But the course is about more than content. Through whole group and break-out room discussions as well as personal reflection activities, participants will engage in a variety of structures that support conversations about race and inequity that are both compassionate and truthful. In short, it will strengthen your equity leadership skills and create opportunities to reflect on your experience of living in a racialized society.

Our monthly thought partnership sessions provide me therapy when I need to vent, productivity when I need to plan, and creativity when I’m stuck.


Renee Nicothodes, Chief of Schools, Elementary, Jeffco Public Schools