Remembering Dirk Tillotson

A collage of photos with Dirk Tillotson. Courtesy of Great School Voices blog.

On Saturday, October 2, 2021, education activist Dirk Tillotson was killed in a home invasion robbery in Oakland. Oakland Voices alumni correspondent Iris M. Crawford, who worked with Tillotson on his Great School Voices blog, remembers him. The remembrance is republished with permission from the author.

Dirk was a movement. This is where words and language have its limitations as they cannot even begin to adequately express the feelings of his family and his community. 

“By becoming deeply aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life.” That is exactly what Dirk did – intensified, heightened, and improved the experience and world of education for our young minds. As many of us know, Dirk was the Founder and Executive Director of this incredible platform Great School Voices. For over thirty years, Dirk has been an educator, movement builder, and voice for making our school systems better, especially for Black students and other students of color. He has done this work in Oakland, New York City, Doha and New Orleans and places in between, always holding steadfast in his vision. He believed and fought for our kids because academically, high-quality education is an inherent right, not a luxury.

Despite being violently taken from us on Friday evening, his legacy will continue to live on, and with your readership, support, and commitment, it will. 

Please share and donate to the GoFundMe that was started for him and his family last night.  We encourage you to share and keep Dirk’s legacy alive.

Author Profile

Iris M. Crawford, is a poet and social justice advocate. Hailing from New York City, she is a first-generation Guyanese- American. Her journey has allowed her to empower communities through health care advocacy, education and environmental justice. In 2018, Iris was selected as a semi-finalist Fulbright Scholar for an English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa. She also just became a resident of the 2020 Shuffle Collective Literary Arts Residency where she will be working to strengthen her creative work, gain skills to continue growing professionally and build community. She earned her BA in Political Philosophy and African American Studies from Syracuse University.

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