Over the weekend, former NCAE President, teacher, and civil rights leader Rodney Ellis was laid to rest in his hometown of Winston-Salem. The hundreds in attendance whose lives he touched are testament to the lasting impact Rodney had on those who were fortunate enough to know him during his remarkable life.
Rodney was the voice for teachers at a time when their value came increasingly under attack, serving to continuously remind us that the commitment teachers have made to serve our future generations must be honored rather than denigrated. His advocacy for teachers was intertwined with a staunch commitment to the value of public education as the means to uplift the lives of impoverished children, a commitment he upheld each day as a teacher at Philo-Hill Middle School.
Those who believe in the principles for which Rodney stood face seemingly long odds right now in the fight against the dismantling of the public school system, but the example his life set shows that these obstacles can and will be overcome. And we can take solace in the fact that Rodney’s values will continue through the countless people whose lives he made better. Though much too short, his was a life well-lived and an example to tens of thousands who follow in his footsteps.