Guilty Pleasure.

One of my new found guilty pleasures is creating content on the 8 Black Hands Podcast (@8blackhands1 on twitter). Each of us has our own strengths, and we all push each other to explore areas that need attention. Hanging out with these guys helps me to be more reflective in my practice. Our ability to put complex issues under a microscope while being realistic about outcomes and expectations is unrivaled.

I genuinely enjoy kicking it with the 8 Black Hands. We are a talented group of individuals who strive to improve educational outcomes for the 8 million plus Black students in pursuit of quality educational choices. Together we form the 8 Black Hands. In order to get to know us better, I’m attaching individual episodes we did to highlight each other’s work.


Ray is just Ray (@Mr_Ankrum on Twitter), and because writing in the third person is pompous and obnoxious, I’ll end here.


Dr. Cole III (@CColeiii on Twitter) is my nemesis on the show. However, in real life, Cole is one of the most thoughtful people I know. Facing constant critique from all different podcast angles, I have never seen a more self-reflective person. Cole cares about his community, like no one I have witnessed. The selfless doc will give you the shirt off his back and put himself on the line to help others. As a young CEO, board member of a non-profit, speaker, and creator, Dr. Cole III is a fantastic talent. I’m glad he’s a part of The Hands.


Sharif (@selmekki on Twitter) is so zen and chill, it’s pretty funny. Nothing bothers Rif, but if you want to rile him up, talk about Black kids in a deficit thinking kind of way, and he transforms. As a former public school teacher and administrator, and a former charter school administrator, Rif provides a unique perspective on schools. His current work focuses on educational justice, including improving teaching in schools, and focusing on diversifying the teacher workforce with an emphasis on finding ways to increase the number of Black men who are leading America’s classrooms (currently, only 2% of teachers are Black men). You will see Mr. El-Mekki on billboards, at half-time ceremonies at Sixers games, on viral videos, etc.

I’m glad he’s part of The Hands.


Breezy, aka @citizenstewart (on Twitter), aka Chris Stewart, is a visionary in his own right. Motivated by his horrible educational experiences, this brother changes the narrative for his family and many other families that advocate for school choice. Many misinterpret Breezy’s passion, when his focus is pretty simple: allow families to choose what schools are in the best interest of their children.

Chris does not come without controversy, so be warned he matches energy. Mr. Stewart is also a visionary and currently serves as the CEO of Brightbeam. Not only does this brother have a silver tongue, but his pen skills are also unrivaled.

I’m glad he’s part of The Hands.

Learn more about the 8 Black Hands.

Ray Ankrum is the current Superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School. Mr. Ankrum has gained notoriety as a school turnaround expert. He is enthusiastic about helping students from low (SES) find ways to end generational poverty through educational advocacy. If you believe PoC can end generational poverty by exercising educational opportunities, you have an ally in @Mr_Ankrum. Ankrum’s post was originally published on his blog page, Everybody Luvs Raymond’s Education Blog. View more posts from Ankrum.


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