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Darron Lamonte Edwards

Darron Lamonte Edwards

Senior/Lead Pastor, United Believers Community Church

As a Kauffman Education Fellow, Darron Lamonte Edwards is a passionate advocate for equity in education. This year he has taken time to lament, learn, love, and lead, taking hope in the willingness of so many to move from ideation to curation.

Q: Why is now the time, and what do we “double-down” on to leverage this moment to take strides for long-lasting change?

The educational community, like the rest of the world, has experienced a major paradigm shift in the way things operate. Since this is “the great reset,” we have a great opportunity to place our hands in wet cement. This is the moment to truly leave our sustainable and noticeable mark on the world in a fresh and innovative way.

For example, our faith community, United Believers Community Church, served eight months as a virtual academy for students. We seized the moment to provide services, support, and safe haven for 50 students. By performing this necessary service, we provided help, hope, and met the needs of the hungry by providing a breakfast snack, hot lunch, and take-home meal each day.

Q: For real systems change to happen, how must perspectives, and how we approach the economy and education, shift to meet the needs of an inclusive, equitable economy?

Systems change is about addressing the root causes of problems, which are often intractable and embedded in networks of cause and effect. The effects of the pandemic exposed even greater gaps in the needs of students and industry. A more diverse world must make intentional space for more diverse thoughts and strategies. We must move from “checking the box” as it relates to equity to allowing diversity, equity, and inclusion to remove those traditional boxes.

A more diverse world must make intentional space for more diverse thoughts and strategies.

While visiting Athens, Greece, the apogee of intellectual power and prowess, the words of Aristotle, the great philosopher, donned my hotel wall: “Intellectuals love to discuss but hate to decide.” When the pandemic happened, I developed this sequence strategy to help me navigate this new normal. The first thing I did was take time to LAMENT. I quickly understood that everything I knew was no more. The second thing I did was to take time to LEARN new ways to meet the old, never-ending needs of people. The third thing I did was decide to LOVE and embrace this new opportunity to make my mark on a new world. These necessary steps empowered me to LEAD and continue to serve my city and become a brand ambassador for community in the midst of a changing culture.

Q: Where do you find hope in the work, conversations, and sifts you see happening, and how does that shape your thinking?

What gives me hope in the midst of so much hopelessness? The willingness of so many to move from ideation to curation with so much resilience. My hope is kindled by watching my wife each day fight through chronic pain to use her position in public school to make positive and productive change. My hope lies in the words of my father who reminded me daily that I am able. My hope comes from a mother who reminds me at the right times that God has called me to do so much more than the Sunday morning service. My hope catches flame every time I look at my children and I realize that generations are counting on me.

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