By Peg Lopata, Contributing writer
BOSTON – Edith Bazile, an educational consultant in her sixties and volunteer from the Boston area is on a mission. Her childhood experiences have made her into a woman intent to rectify some of society’s gravest problems, such as racism and schools that fail to properly teach Black and Hispanic students, especially those with learning disabilities.
Bazile grew up in Roxbury with thirteen siblings.
“We were very poor and hungry,” said Bazile.
Fast forward to now and you’d meet a self-employed consultant, mother of four adult children and grandmother of three; an activist and educator. Her journey from feeling invisible, dismissed and devalued because she was Black and female to who she is today wasn’t an easy one.
Perhaps her determination comes from the many times she saw Malcolm X speak as a child. Perhaps it can be explained by her meeting a kindly dean at a local university as a teenager. Whatever the her source of that drive, her path has been all about helping Black and Hispanic children not suffer the deprivations, indignities and neglect that she felt while in Boston’s schools.
The way out begins
While in high school Bazile was a part-time typist at Polaroid, a camera company with facilities at the time in Cambridge. One day bicycling home she discovered Northeastern University and began to hang out there. She dreamed of attending this university. But not only was she not educated well enough due to the limited courses offered at her high school, she wasn’t even informed about how to apply to college. No one encouraged her to pursue higher education.
“As a Black girl I felt invisible at school and dismissed by society. I was told,” said Bazile, “that I wasn’t college material.”
To date? She’s almost completed her doctorate.
Bazile knew education was her ticket to avoid poverty. She had to find a way to attend Northeastern.
“I saw too much devastation amongst my peers and within my community. I feared for my life without a college education,” said Bazile. “I wanted to be somebody.”
Bazile went to every building and talked to anyone she could find on the Northeastern campus looking for help. Eventually she found Roland Latham, a dean at the university, a black man, who understood her plight.
“Dean Latham was the angel who saved my life,” said Bazile.
At Northeastern, Bazile studied speech and language pathology; audiology and reading. She was interested in these areas of study because disabilities run in her family. After graduation she worked as a speech-language pathologist, special education teacher and administrator, and a literacy specialist. She never forgot Dean Latham.
“I sought to be like him” she said. “I strove to be the teacher I never had, especially for Black students like me who come from poverty.”
Today, Bazile advocates for students with disabilities from preschool age to twenty-two. She aims to make sure Black and Hispanic students have equal access to resources and services. She also works as a professional development consultant at the Collaborative for Educational Services, Northampton, MA, for educators teaching students who are incarcerated for treatment or containment. As a volunteer, she also serves on several boards, publishes regularly, assists individual parents with issues concerning their children, and does workshops with parent and community groups.
Her advocacy, she said, is “focused on the provision of high quality, inclusive education, curricula decolonization and ensuring students gain access to college and career readiness. I also advocate to ensure equitable funding for schools that serve Black and brown students.”
Though she often faces resistance and gets frustrated, it doesn’t deter her.
“I love children,” said Bazile. “Investing in our youth is rewarding and satisfying.”