Bette Tate-Beaver, executive director since 2009 of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), died Aug. 29. She had been a survivor of cancer, but it spread to her brain, and she died under hospice care. Responding to condolences from PeaceWorks-KC leaders, Lewis Diuguid, Bette’s life partner for her last 10 years, said, “Bette was a rock star nationally and internationally in peace and social justice issues. I miss her terribly.”
Bette received the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award at the PeaceWorks-KC Annual Meeting in 2020. PeaceWorks Vice President Mary Hladky, presenting the award to Bette for her work with NAME, said, “NAME is a powerhouse, promoting social justice and education equity from pre-kindergarten through college.”
Bette, on behalf of NAME, took 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,” Bette explained.
Fostering the beloved community later envisioned by Martin Luther King Jr. was “the charge of my family for five generations,” said Bette. Her great-great-grandfather, an African-American in Charlotte, NC, was a barber. “Because he was fair-skinned,” she said, “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.”
The obituary on the NAME website, https://nameorg.org/headline_news.php, also appears in the Sept. 3 issue of The Kansas City Call at this site: https://www.kccallnews.net/search?query=Bette%20Tate%20Beaver&in=ALL&date=Range&startDate=2021-09-03&stopDate=2021-10-09&hideSimilar=0. The obituary pays this tribute to Bette: “With sorrow deeper than ancestral rivers flooded, the NAME family recognizes and mourns the passing of our beloved leader, sister, mentor, friend, colleague, Other-Mother and Sunshine, Bette Tate-Beaver. Ms. Beaver fought recurring battles for survival, from personal attacks, societal traumas, violent white supremacies, to everyday sexism, racism, elitism, dismissals of her brilliance, on and on Bette marched, carrying history forward with each step.”
In her leadership of NAME, says the obituary, Bette “integrated humility with insistence on raw truth. As the movement for Black Lives Matter gained national attention, Bette was on the ground, organizing and uplifting in Ferguson (Mo.) in protests that exploded in the aftermath of the murder of yet another unarmed Black man. Bette was always quick to act––in Oakland, in the Pacific Northwest, in Kansas City, in China, in Cuba––wherever human rights, educational equity and social justice were under attack.”
The peace and justice community in Kansas City mourns the passing of Bette, such a bright light.