I write this Sunday night. I will be flying home to New York City while you read this.

It has been an exhilarating few days in Oakland.

I left NYC on Thursday, amidst a lot of anxiety about whether my flight would be canceled and whether the air quality in Oakland would be bad (my lungs are not in great shape because of a pulmonary embolism many years ago). The plane took off three hours late, and I was never so happy to board a flight even though it was delayed.

The sky in Oakland was a brilliant blue but I saw many people wearing face masks. The Marriott, where we held the conference, was giving out face masks. When I checked in, I noticed that there was another conference going on concurrently at the hotel, called the Cannabis Tech Conference. It seems the pot growers were meeting to learn about technology to grow better weed. They were not handing out free samples, but there was definitely some second-hand smoke in the air, and it was not coming from wine country.

On Friday night, Jitu Brown and I had a public conversation at Oakland Technical High School. It was recorded by KPFA, and I will post it as soon as it becomes available. Jitu led the 34-day hunger strike in Chicago to protest the closing of Dyett High School. He and 11 others did not end the strike until the mayor and his hand-picked Board of Education agreed to keep the school open. The city invested $16 Million in renovations. Jitu and the Journey for Justice demonstrated how a small number of determined people can change the world.

The next day began with a dual keynote: one by me, one by board member Yohuru Williams, historian and dean of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. Yohuru was brilliant! I am eager to post his funny, learned, scathing performance about “The Principles We Fight For.” It included a “close reading” of Betsy DeVos’ speech at Harvard, which was a tour de force. I’m glad I didn’t have to follow him.

I won’t attempt to walk you through the many wonderful workshops and keynotes that were available. Investigative journalist Nikole Hannah Jones gave the closing keynote. Only a few days earlier, she learned she had won a McArthur Award for her reporting on racial injustice. She made an impassioned plea to make racial integration the focus of school reform.

All the keynotes and some of the workshops were videotaped.

I will post them as soon as they are ready.

The most important things that happened at the conference were not on stage, but in the hallways, where people from across the country met others they had only heard of. We had parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, local school board members, state school board members, journalists, students. The conversations were buoyant.

No one was paid to attend. Almost everyone paid their own way. The speakers were not paid. This was truly a grassroots effort, run on a shoestring, but a very beautiful, unencumbered shoestring. Nearly 500 people came together to find comfort, fellowship, solidarity, and hope.

We sold books and T-shirts and any proceeds from those sales will be donated to relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Judging by the enthusiastic responses of attendees, I think this was our best conference yet.

The board meets Monday to decide on the location of our next conference.

At one point in the middle of an unusually joyful workshop, I turned to Anthony Cody and said, “Can you believe we started this only four years ago”