Education is looking ‘Bright’
Black New Yorker
Cyril Josh Barker | 6/19/2014, 12:22 p.m.
Marcus Bright is on a crusade to link colleges with high schools in urban communities in an effort to get young people excited about science and math, putting them at the forefront for careers in technology.
Bright serves as the executive director for the organization Education for a Better America (EBA), which is a sister organization to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Sharpton’s daughter Dominique serves as board president of EBA.
The mission of the organization is to link policymakers to classrooms by creating a dialogue among policymakers, community leaders, educators, parents and students. EBA also disseminates information and findings that positively impact schools.
In addition to his position at EBA, Bright is also an adjunct professor of public administration at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post as well as a public speaker and advocate.
As more jobs are being created in the field of technology, Bright says that making sure students of color are not left out is crucial. However, making sure Black and Latino students have an opportunity all starts with sparking more interest in science and math.
Originally from the small town of Martin, Tenn., Bright said that he came from a family of educators who steered him toward his interests.
“My mother and aunt were teachers, and I was taught that education was always a vehicle of upward mobility,” he said.
He would go on to University of Tampa to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and he earned his Ph.D. From Florida Atlantic University, where he currently teaches.
In his work with EBA, he connects colleges with urban communities to engage students in the fields of science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) through after-school programs and civic engagement.
“I think the number one issue for Black America is that we are far behind in terms of getting people into the STEM pipeline,” he said. “Right now, we are unemployed. There are lots of jobs going unfilled in the country, and they require a background in science, technology and mathematics.”
While Bright said he understands that every student might not be interested in going into technology, he said having a standard of interest is crucial. He does this by implementing programs that get students of color excited about learning math and science.
EBA recently hosted the Higher Education Awareness and Conflict Resolution Initiative at Hempstead High School in Long Island. Speakers at the event included Bright and Dominique Sharpton. At another high school in Florida, Al Sharpton spoke to students about the value of education.
“We just have to really stay engaged on every level—state and national,” Bright said. “The new Silicon Valley is going to be New York City, and we have to investigate who is coming in and who is being hired.”
In July, Bright will participate in Capitol Hill day in Washington, D.C. He’s also continuing his work getting more high schools and colleges across the country to work together to get more students prepared for college.