Resources for Leaders

Origin of the Words: Conspiracy of Care

A foundational concept of COSEBOC built on the words of one of our forbears.

If you are a regular follower of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) you surely have heard me use the following phrases: the conspiracy of care and the affirmative social, emotional, cultural, and academic development of boys and young men of color.

These terms have become ubiquitous in our public documents, social media postings, and on our website. Further, whenever I am asked to speak on panels or make presentations on behalf of COSEBOC, these important words are embedded in the context of my remarks.

As COSEBOC enters its 15th year of service on behalf of boys and young men of color, I thought it important to remember from whence these words were drawn.

In 1995 I hosted a national convening designed to reconnect schools with their alumni and their local communities. The focus of this national convening was to bring parents, community members, educators, and successful alumni under one banner called Operation Reconnection. Such a reconnection, we posited, would re-create a community invested in restoring excellence to inner-city schools, which had fallen into dire academic times.

One of my invited speakers was Willis Bright. Willis, a program officer for the Lilly Foundation, was an eloquent speaker. He roused the representatives from schools and their communities from Oakland to Boston when he boldly stated, “We must be united in a conspiracy of care. This conspiracy of care must be deliberate in its intentions to save our children and youth from academic and life failure.”

Years later, I communicated with Willis who had retired from his position at the Foundation. I told him that I was starting an organization dedicated to raising success profiles for boys and young men of color. I asked his permission to employ the words conspiracy of care within the fabric and fiber of COSEBOC. His words were my greenlight. Even now, whenever I hear the words conspiracy of care used by friends and colleagues, I beam and think about Willis Bright. These two oppositional words joined together make a dynamic, intentional, and impactful statement of earnestness about COSEBOC’s mission. Thank you, Willis Bright.