Understanding Roots of Racism – Education – Recap and Resources

Thank you for joining United Way of Central Indiana at our Education session of Understanding the Roots of Racism, an educational series on policies and practices of the past that have created barriers to service, resources and opportunities for Black Americans – many of which still exist today.
We are taught at a young age that “you can be anything you want to be – as long as you go to school, study hard, and graduate.” However, that promise hasn’t always been equally available to every family in America. Historically, black children and young adults in America have faced discrimination all along their path to academic achievement, preventing them from opportunities to succeed in school, and in life. From preschool to post-secondary education, learn about the history, causes and consequences of systemic racism in our education systems from an esteemed panel of voices in our community who work tirelessly to ensure every child is guaranteed a quality education.
We hope you found our session on education informative, and are looking forward to our upcoming session focused on financial success.


View the Recording Below:



Meet Our Panelists:


Brandon Brown


As CEO, Brandon Brown leads The Mind Trust’s groundbreaking work to provide every Indianapolis student the opportunity to attend an excellent school. The Mind Trust advances this vision through three strategies: growing great schools; investing in talented educators to launch and staff these schools; and amplifying the conditions for schools’ success.
Brandon previously oversaw The Mind Trust’s three education incubators as Senior Vice President for Education Innovation. In this capacity, he primarily focused on The Mind Trust’s Innovation School Fellowship, a unique partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to incubate excellent Innovation Network Schools that serve all students well.
Brandon Brown joined The Mind Trust after three years of service as the City of Indianapolis’ charter schools director under Mayor Greg Ballard. As charter schools director from 2012 to 2015, Brandon oversaw 35 charter schools and four turnaround schools serving nearly 15,000 students. Also under his watch, the Mayor’s Office opened 15 new charter schools and gained oversight of four turnaround schools. According to a 2015 Stanford University study, students attending Mayor-sponsored charter schools gained an additional two to three months of learning each school year as compared to their traditional public school peers.
Before joining the Mayor’s Office, Brandon served in several leadership roles with Teach For America (TFA)-Indianapolis, including as managing director of community partnerships of the Indianapolis office. He previously was a TFA corps member and taught English at Carnahan High School in St. Louis.
Brandon was selected by Indianapolis Business Journal for its “40 Under 40” class in 2019. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has been an advisory board member for Teach Plus-Indianapolis, a statewide council member for the Indiana Center for Family, School and Community Partnerships and a member of the Central Indiana Education Alliance.


Dr. Natasha Flowers


Natasha Flowers primarily teaches in the Elementary Education program. She has led university-school partnerships in Wayne Township and Indianapolis Public Schools.
Dr. Flowers teaches courses in multicultural education and teaches introductory course on curriculum theory for the Urban Principalship Program. Dr. Flowers has supervised student teachers in urban schools. She has worked with local community-based education-focused organizations such as the National Council on Educating Black Children and Freetown Village. For three years, she has coordinated the pre-block courses for the teacher education programs. In this role, she supports School of Education’s recruitment efforts, committed to college student access to faculty diversity, and coordinates the schedule of courses. In this role, she collaborates with local schools and organizations to strengthen the required service learning component in the preblock courses.
She has worked in afterschool programs, first year writing programs in four year and community college programs, college faculty development, and advocacy programs for faculty, staff, and students from groups commonly and grossly excluded. Her presentations and writing typically focuses on multicultural education, anti-racist scholarship, critical race theory, and the Black community.


Christine Garza


Christine leads center operations for Day Early Learning’s network of early learning lab schools and the Early Head Start-Child Care Network. She brings 20 years of experience in the field of early education, with a diverse background beginning as a toddler teacher, home Visitor and serving as an administrator within Early Head Start/Head Start programs. Leading programs that value supporting the whole child and their family. Christine has an associate degree in early childhood education and bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Purdue University.


Patricia Payne


Patricia (Pat) Payne has served IPS for over 58 years. She is an Indianapolis native who attended IPS and graduated from Shortridge High School and Indiana University, Bloomington. In 1962, she began her service with the Indianapolis Public Schools teaching second grade until 1987 when she was appointed to design and direct the IPS Office of Multicultural Education. Following a brief retirement in 2014, she returned to IPS and presently serves as Director of the IPS Racial Equity Office and the Crispus Attucks Museum.
Pat served as President of the Indianapolis Education Association and Chairperson of the National Education Association Black Caucus. She is the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards including the distinguished Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the state of Indiana, the IPS Hall of Fame Award, the Carter G. Woodson Award and the H. Council Trenholm Award from the National Education Association, the Champion of Diversity Awards from the Indianapolis Minority Business Magazine, the Trailblazer Award from the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University, the Senator Julia Carson Community Service Award, the Living Legend Award from Community Action of Greater Indianapolis, the “Putting Your Faith on the Line” Award and the “Educational Excellence” Award from Indiana Black Expo, and the Sankofa Award from the NAACP, Indianapolis Chapter.
Pat serves on the boards of Flanner House, Indiana University Alumni, Martin University and the Indianapolis Public Library. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, her Master’s Degree and Administrative License from IUPUI and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from Martin University. Pat is an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Golden Soror and an ordained Elder at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church. She is mother to Kristie King, grandmother to Michael and Myles and wife to Jerome.


Dr. Shawn Smith


Dr. Smith is a native of Indianapolis, IN. He received his formal education from the Indianapolis Public School system (IPS) and received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Master’s Degree in Education from Indiana University – Bloomington. Dr. Smith completed an Ed.S. and a Ph.D. from Indiana State University in Educational Leadership. Upon completion of the Bachelor of Science degree program, he taught in the Indianapolis Public Schools as well as the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township’s school system.
In 1995, he began his administrative career in Washington Township. He served as an Assistant Principal and Principal. While serving as Principal at Eastwood Middle School from 1998 to 2003, the school was awarded the coveted Four Star School Award by the State of Indiana while under his leadership. Dr. Smith was named District Principal of the Year in 2003 by the Indiana Principal’s Association. He served as President of the Indiana Association of School Principals – District 7 (Indianapolis) from 2006 to 2008.
In 2003, he left Washington Township to join the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township to be the Principal of Pike High School Freshman Center, opening the new Center in the Fall of 2004 serving 850 students. During his time at Pike Township, he has served as a Principal, Director of Student and Community Services and as the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education. In 2014, he was selected as Superintendent for the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township. The MSD of Lawrence Township has over 16,000 students and is the 9th largest School District in the state of Indiana. He has also served on numerous district committees. Dr. Smith has over 30 years of experience in the field of education and today, he is still a passionate educator whose first love is teaching Social Studies He has also served on numerous district committees.
Dr. Smith currently serves on the following community Boards: American Heart Association, Communities in Schools, Connor Prairie, YMCA Ft. Benjamin Harrison and The Northeast Indianapolis Rotary Club. He also served as President of the Indiana University School of Education Alumni Board from 2009 to 2011 and sat on the Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis Library Board. He is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and a Tobias Leadership Center Fellow.
He is not only committed to educating students and serving the community, he is also dedicated to his family. He and wife, Tabetha Smith, have three children, Olivia, Maya and Jordan.


Resources & Links:


Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race
Multiplication Is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children
Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

Fighting Systemic Racism in K-12 Education: Helping Allies Move From the Keyboard to the School Board
Exclusionary Discipline in PreSchool: Young Black Boys’ Lives Matter
Understanding and Eliminating Expulsion in Early Childhood Programs
The Opportunity Myth
Indiana Funding Disparities Report
Chalkbeat article on UniGov and education
Nice White Parents