Black History Month Reflections

A Legacy of Hope: Drawing Inspiration from History to Shape the Future of Education


As we mark the 15th anniversary of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, we find ourselves at a crossroads of reflection and aspiration. Our journey has been one of resilience, rooted in the belief that change and improvement are not just possible but imperative to unlock what’s possible for our community’s future. As we celebrate this milestone, we draw inspiration from powerful civil rights narratives and landmark cases like Brown vs. Board of Education, recognizing their enduring relevance in shaping our mission and vision for the future.

The civil rights movement serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path forward with its unwavering commitment to justice and equality. It reminds us of the transformative power of student and allied leadership, as seen in the courageous actions of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and their partners. SNCC demonstrated fierce determination to realize their rights and potential, organizing lunch counter sit-ins, registering voters, and more. Their voices, young and resolute, remind us of the importance of remaining student centered in all we do. Today we must recommit to partnering with young people and those who champion and support them to promote what the future generations of our city need and deserve to thrive in school and in life.

Moreover, the lessons of truth-telling from the civil rights era resonate deeply within our work at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Just as leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks fearlessly confronted injustice, we too are committed to confronting the realities of inequity within public education and our community. Through data-driven decision-making, we strive to drive meaningful change and improvement. Such dedication is not just a moral imperative but a catalyst for progress, guiding us toward a more equitable future for all.

As we reflect on the legacy of Brown vs. Board of Education, we are reminded of the power of unity in the face of adversity. This landmark case shattered the illusion of "separate but equal," igniting a movement that brought together individuals from all walks of life to challenge segregation and advocate for equal rights. Some of the gaps we see in education currently can also be traced back to the inequitable way in which schools were integrated, which is why JPEF’s work as a convener, uniting stakeholders across lines of difference to improve public education in our city, and as an advocate for students and families is still so relevant today. Together, we have forged partnerships, bridged divides, and championed initiatives that advance opportunity for every child.

As we stand on the threshold of the future, let us draw strength from the lessons of history and the resilience of those who came before us. Let us embrace the challenges ahead with courage and conviction, knowing that change is not only possible but inevitable. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering a brighter tomorrow, where every child has the opportunity to thrive and succeed. Together, we will continue to write the next chapter in our city's story of progress and promise.

Truly yours,

Rachael Tutwiler Fortune

President, Jacksonville Public Education Fund




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.