The day after Donald Trump was elected president, Melinda Dart, CFT vice president and president of the Jefferson Elementary Federation in Daly City, saw a sixth-grade boy with his head on a desk, sobbing. Girls asked her how a person who’d said the things Trump said could have been elected president. Dart didn’t have an answer for that, but she was glad to see these sixth-graders angry. 

“We need to keep them engaged and organized and resisting,” she said. “Like Gloria Steinem said, ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’”

Dart, the recipient of CFT’s Women in Education Award, said that she will make the long drive to Sacramento often in the coming months to try to flip a red district to blue even though that is not appealing.

“I have to do it for the kids who are crying and upset,” she said. “Our kids are looking to us for leadership.”

Introducing Dart, Sergio Robledo-Maderazo, president of the AFT local in Daly City’s high school district, talked about her energy and how Dart, who he called a “strong, righteous feminist” had created ties with sister locals and pushed the Daly City Council to protect immigrants and renters. 

Dart gave credit to CFT for giving her local a Strategic Campaign Initiative grant and to her local for offering family education workshops and working to create community schools. Remembering when her 32-year-old son was born, and healthcare ended when you got pregnant, Dart said it was time to organize to end injustice. 

“Are we going to stand back and let immigrant families be torn apart and let public schools be sold?” she asked. “No! Organize and resist!”

— Convention Reporting by Emily Wilson