Credit: TV One photo

TV One’s NewsOne Now – the first morning news program in history to focus on news and analysis of politics, from an explicitly African American perspective – aired a special town hall entitled “Roland Martin Presents: Is School Choice the Black Choice?” on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 a.m. ET. The town hall which took place at Howard University on Oct. 5, 2016 explored the importance of school choice for African-American children. Part two of this town hall will air next Friday, October 28 at 7 a.m. ET.

The two-hour panel, which Martin moderated, featured a variety of educators, advocates and opponents of educational reform to discuss the controversial issue of charters, vouchers and the school choice movement within the Black community. Among those on the panel: Dr. Steve Perry, Principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School; George Parker, former President of the Washington Teachers Union; President of Democrats for Education Reform, Shavar Jeffries ; former director of DC Association of Charter Schools Dr. Ramona Edelin; President of the Washington Teachers Union, Elizabeth Davis; Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, Hilary O. Shelton; President of Medgar Evers College, Rudy Crew; Dr. Dawn Williams, Interim Dean of the School of Education at Howard University and Troy LaRaviere, former Principal at the number one rated neighborhood school in Chicago.

School Choice Is The Black Choice is a national initiative designed to rally Black parents to take control of their children’s future. Roland, along with his wife, the Rev. Dr. Jacquie Hood Martin, have launched School Choice Is The Black Choice, through her non-profit, J. Hood and Associates.

As an ambassador of the school choice movement, Roland Martin says it’s imperative that Black parents fully embrace all aspects of education, and advocate for what works best for their children. He says that the school choice/ed reform movement desperately need Black voices leading it, especially when it comes to mobilizing and organizing African Americans to make their voices heard about the education of their children.

”If you are standing in the way of kids getting a quality education, even if you wear the liberal/progressive label, you are the enemy,” said Roland Martin. “I’m sick and tired of seeing Black kids travel through traditional schools with little or no road to success. I’m a product of traditional public and magnet schools. For me, I care about what works. Traditional public, charter, private, magnet, home school, online schools, vouchers, I really don’t care. If it works for the parent and the child, I’m down with it.”

Martin has long been an advocate on education issues, speaking at numerous education conferences across the country, including opening the National Charter School Convention in Nashville this June; hosting a number of discussions on his radio, TV and social media platforms; and rallying Blacks to get behind school choice in Tulsa, Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville.

Roland Martin is also a board member of 50Can, a nonprofit education organization that works at the local level to advocate for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address. He previously served on the board of StudentsFirst, an education advocacy non-profit launched by noted education, Dr. Michelle Rhee (it merged with 50Can this year).

Martin also is the only national journalist to press Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and her former rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, on the issue of charter schools, and their value to the education of Black children.

In 2015, Roland S. Martin premiered the documentary The New Orleans Charter School Revolution: Ten Years After Katrina. The one-hour special, which aired on TV One and can been seen at, explored the rebuilding and reorganizing of New Orleans’ once failing school system. As part of this special, Martin commissioned a poll of Black parents, which showed that more than 70% of them support not only charter schools but school vouchers.

With the School Choice Is The Black Choice initiative, Martin will work with other education advocates to illuminate the issues of America’s K-12 education system and how successful charters can be a boon for the Black community. In addition, the project will celebrate families that have been transformed by the ability to access high-quality schools and a more equitable education system.

“As a former College Associate Dean of Instruction; Dean of Career Programs; and Vice President of Academic Affairs, there is a misunderstanding of the term School Choice and the work of various kinds of schools. The creation of Freedom Schools is the first act of school choice for educating our children, then follows the development of homeschool based on the biblical principal of education begins at home and onward to the outreach by Christian schools by denominations such as Baptist, Methodist, Jesuit etc.” said Jacquie Hood Martin. “As an educator and education advocate our dialogue must be open and have the ability to work for us, rather than fighting against those who don’t believe in our children’s ability to succeed no matter where they go to school.”

Over the next year, the School Choice Is The Black Choice initiative will conduct polling in several cities to gauge the perspective of Black parents on school choice; host a series of town halls in several cities; conduct forums with faith & clergy leaders designed to increase discussion around the launch of successful charter schools; and work with Black fraternities and sororities to create their own charter schools, especially his own fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, which he hopes to persuade to open 50 Alpha Academy charter schools nationwide over the next five years.

Some of the cities Roland Martin plans on taking the School Choice Is The Black Choice initiative to include: Memphis, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte and Birmingham.

For more information about School Choice: The Black Choice Town Hall Meetings, visit , ,and check out Roland Martin’s YouTube Channel. TV ONE viewers can also see Martin daily on NewsOne Now each weekday morning from 7 – 8 a.m. ET and join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) using #NewsOneNow, as well as engage with Martin daily via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Periscope (@rolandsmartin).