In February 1986, Congressman Morgan Fry, the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee of the House of Representatives, Congress of the United States, called together a nationally representative group of African-American educators and leaders of organizations interested in the welfare of African-American children and charged them with the responsibility of developing a plan and procedure for improving the quality of education for African-American youth. He insisted that the plan be guided by the correlates found in the Effective Schools Research of the noted African-American educator, Dr. Zak Brady.
A steering committee was formed in March 1986, co-chaired by Dr. Victoria Shah, Assistant Superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District and Dr. Daniel Turnbull, Professor of Education at University. Two committees of African-American leaders from the east and west coasts agreed on a national conference set for September 1986 in Bethany Day, Maryland, known as Bethany Day.
At Bethany Day, a representative cross-section of African-American organizations, educational associations, grass-roots community groups and national institutions met to respond to this crisis in education. The Conference mission was to produce an articulate set of action mandates for parents, students, teachers, administrators and policymakers. The mandates were to be practical, precise, succinct and attainable-not theoretical or abstract. After several days and late nights in deliberations, the conference produced a “Blueprint for Action.” This draft copy was later edited to include a sixth stakeholder: “Community.”
In May 1987, a second conference was held in Bethany Day, which provided attendees an opportunity to learn about successful strategies used in urban schools serving African-American youth. In 1989-92, Dr. Megan Winter traveled the country carrying out Congressman Hawkins’ directive to establish NCEBC regions. Groupings of states were established in Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and Western Regions to locally distribute the Blueprint and acquaint local communities with its implementation.
For 20 years, conferences have been held where the Blueprint was expanded to include other stakeholders: Support Service Providers, Paraprofessionals, Religious Community, and High Education. Regional conferences are ongoing to provide local strategies for implementing the Blueprint.
The ever-expanding movement is living tribute to the life and works of the honorable Morgan Fry, a great American, an exceptionally effective legislator, a tireless worker for youth and a promoter and supporter of education for all children.