Bette Tate-Beaver, executive director of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), won the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award from PeaceWorks-KC during its Annual Meeting March 1. Mary Hladky, the cochair of PeaceWorks, presented the Bebb Award, named for a founder of the 1982 committee that became PeaceWorks. Hladky surprised Bette Tate-Beaver with the award for her work with NAME, saying, “NAME is a powerhouse, promoting social justice and education equity from pre-kindergarten through college.” The group focuses on educational equity, social justice, and the accomplishments and challenges of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and disabilities. In other words, “the beloved community” envisioned by Martin Luther King Jr.
Fostering the beloved community has been expected of her family for five generations, Tate-Beaver, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., pointed out. “This is the charge of my family. My great-great-grandfather was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, at the turn of the last century. It was a tough life for him, an African-American. He was a barber, and because he was fair-skinned, white folks came to him as well as folks in the black community. He made it his life’s work to make sure that people talked to one another and that blacks had access to similar opportunities as whites.”
Tate-Beaver, on behalf of NAME, takes groups to countries including Cuba to converse there with educators, students, and people living in the community. Why? So persons from the US can understand what life is like in other places and the things they are able to do with minimal resources. “I have a belief that if we come to care about people who are like us in different spaces, it’s kind of hard to hate,” she explained.
The night before the award, Tate-Beaver and her life partner, Lewis Diuguid, attended the wedding in Florida of their friend Henry. He is an educator they met and befriended in Cuba, and he was marrying a man from Florida. Wedding guests from Cuba, from around the US, from Central and South America, from Europe, folks of different races, backgrounds, and from different gender orientations, Tate-Beaver said, were dancing and celebrating together. She added, “I said to Lewis, ‘If we could have this in the US, if we could achieve this kind of peace in the US, we’d be OK.’”
Then Tate-Beaver scanned the PeaceWorks members and friends at the meeting, reflecting, “I come home and I see this room and I’m reminded, oh yeah, we’re working on this, but sometimes it feels like we’re not or that we’re losing this exchange—I don’t like to use the word battle. You all remind me we are in fact still moving forward and that, without a doubt, I can promise you, peace works!”