Our History

Brothers Liberating Our Communities (BLOC) was founded in 2016 by a group of Black Male Educators from Kansas City, MO. Inspired by The Fellowship and the work of Sharif El-Mekki , BLOCs first initiative was to simply connect the black male educators already existing in the ecosystem. Through intentional social and networking meetings, the BLOC grew to over 150 Educators in the Greater KC Metropolitan Area. In addition to social and support networks, BLOC also began curating professional development specifically for black men in education. Even further, BLOC helped engage black men in the communities they taught in through mentoring, volunteer work, and tutoring opportunities. Through connection, development, and engagement, over the last 5 years we have retained 100% of BLOC members.

When Cornell Ellis decided to leave the classroom to be the full time Executive Director, he took on the bold task of fleshing out the rest of the plan to increase Black Male Educators in the education ecosystem. BLOC now works to Recruit and Advance more black men into teaching through high school and college partnerships and has grown to create partnerships with similar organizations across the globe. With an eye on the horizon, BLOC hopes that one day all students will have access to equal representation and revolutionary black male educators.

Brand Symbolism

The brandmark for a BLOC inherits, many of its characteristics from the Adinkra symbols that originate from West Africa, specifically Ghana. On further analysis of the brandmark, the symbol references two specific Adinkra symbols Akoma Ntoaso and Eban. Akoma Ntoaso (linked hearts) symbolizes understanding and agreement. Eban or fence also symbolizes love, safety, and security. The strength and balance, found in the symbols, best represent the mission and vision of the BLOC organization.  

Board of Directors

BLOC’s Board of Directors is an experienced, passionate group of leaders from the Kansas City area. They commit their time, talents, and resources to the Liberation of our community.

Mary Esselman

CEO Operation Breakthrough

Charles King

Exec. Director Kansas City Teaching Residency

Jeff Shafer

Development Director City Year Kansas City

Spark Bookhart

Community Organizer Parent Power Lab

Jayson Strickland

Hogan Prep Academy - Superintendent

Jonathan Foster

Pastor& Author