2018 Social Justice Activist Nominee Profile

Gabriel Tanglao has drawn on the skills he learned from his union’s leadership trainings to develop sessions on racial justice for educators, students and communities, and to influence policy makers.

Gabriel has developed and facilitated topical sessions which include, “Racial Justice: All Day, Every Day,” “Take a Knee: Leading on Racial Justice to Demand Equity,” and “Growing a Movement: From Roots to Fruits.” He presented at NEA National Leadership Summits, and Minority & Women Leadership Training Conferences.  At the state level, Gabriel has facilitated “Social Justice,” “Cultural Competence in the Classroom,” “Understanding the Association,” and more.

Gabriel has also built the skills to impact policy makers.  As an alumni of the New Leaders Council Fellowship and a Senior Fellow with the Millennial Policy Initiative on the Commission on Education, Gabriel is advancing equity in education through public policy.  He will be addressing the school-to-prison-pipeline in the work he is authoring for the New Leaders digital magazine.

We caught up to have a conversation with Gabriel at school where he advises the Model United Nations, National Social Studies Honor Society, and is a STEM mentor.  We talked about what inspires him, what role students play in this movement and the biggest challenges facing public education today.

Vote for the 2018 Social justice Activist of the Year!

What spurred you to become an educator activist?

Love for my students.  Love for my profession. Love for my community.


Why should social justice activism matter to educators?

If social justice is not a core value or burning aspiration, then why become an educator?


What role do students play in movement building, especially in light of the new political environment?

Young people have always been the spiritual fire and guiding light from the beginning of human society. They give us purpose, direction, and motivation to keep moving forward.

Shout out to the students leaders in my U.S. History I Honors and AP U.S. History courses — Lemon Club, Together Everyone Can Help (TECH) Club, Creating Creative Children (C3) Club, Minorities Represented Club, and Genders & Sexualities Alliance at Bergen Tech in Teterboro — former student leaders in my AP Economics, Personal Finance, and World History courses — Model United Nations and National Social Studies Honor Society at Bergenfield High School — and the amazing humans involved with Teens Talk About Racism.


What is the role personal stories play in social justice activism?

Our beautifully diverse experiences that shape our personal identities are vital to our shared journey toward collective liberation. As political and economic forces tear at the social fibers that connect us, our stories hold us together.


What is the biggest issue facing public education today? 

Our culture that feeds “the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” is the biggest issue facing public education today. We need to transform our culture.


What song gets you fired up to do this work?

“Never Let Me Down” by Kanye West ft. Jay-Z and J. Ivy.


What message would you most want to tell educator activists just starting out?

Protect Your Passion. Stay Well and Healthy. Keep Moving Forward.


Vote for the 2018 Social justice Activist of the Year!


  • Freedom to Read

    Censoring books written by mostly Black, brown, and LGBTQ authors denies students the ability to see themselves and understand our similarities and our differences. We’re joining together to make sure every student has to look no further than the shelves of their own school libraries to find age-appropriate books that show they are reflected and respected.
  • Honesty in Education

    Together, we can demand that our schools have the resources to meet every child’s needs with well-trained and supported teachers and a curriculum that helps them reckon with and shape our future.
  • COVID-19 & Our Communities

    The systemic inequities that are laid bare by COVID-19 increase the stressors on our students, our families and the most vulnerable in our communities. As we organize together for a better tomorrow, we are sharing ways that educators and allies are addressing the challenges and keeping us connected and caring for each other.
  • Racial Justice is Education Justice

    Our education system is intended to uphold equal opportunity, but too often it also entrenches racial disparities by its design. We are engaging educators, students and allies to foster real dialogue around issues of racial justice in education and to mobilize and take action for education justice.
  • Support Ethnic Studies Programs

    From campaigns to require schools to offer ethnic studies courses, to efforts to change the names of schools honoring Confederate leaders, students and educators are mobilizing to include voices of the diverse ethnicities that have contributed to the history and culture of the United States.
  • Black Lives Matter @ School

    The goal of Black Lives Matter @ School is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of racial justice.
  • Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline

    Zero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies are pushing kids out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at unprecedented rates. Learn how educators, students and families are building relationships and community to address and prevent conflict.
  • Families Belong Together

    Immigration issues are complicated. But some things are simple. We should not punish children for decisions they didn’t make. We should not separate families. And we should provide a trusted path to citizenship for immigrant Dreamers. Read how educators are taking action on these issues.
  • Dreamers

    Dreamers are young, aspiring Americans – part of our communities. They are students who deserve every opportunity to learn, educators who inspire children each day, members of the military, our neighbors and friends. These are their stories. This is their voice.
  • School Safe Zones

    All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from harsh immigration enforcement. Many school districts are making their campuses “safe zones” for immigrant students and communities. You can be part of this movement.
  • Protecting Our Students' Civil Rights

    In the face of federal civil rights rollbacks and threats, educators, parents and students are organizing to adopt school board policies that strengthen student protections. Find model policies and strategies that will empower you to ensure all students’ right to a safe and affirming school.
  • Supporting LGBTQ Youth

    LGTBQ students face unique challenges in our schools. They are more likely to face bullying and harassment leading to poor grades, higher dropout rates and homelessness. Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success.
  • Educational Equity for Women and Girls

    All students deserve equal access to educational opportunities. However, girls and women often face structural barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond. Girls of color are more likely than white girls to face unfair discipline. And sexual harassment and violence in school are problems that confront most all girls. Learn how educators, students and allies are mobilizing to support the needs of all students — regardless of gender.
  • Facing Hate and Bias at School

    All students have a right to a public education in a safe learning environment. But right now, many of our students are scared, anxious, and feeling threatened. Students and educators around the country are reporting hostile and hateful environments in their schools and communities. When students feel that they are not welcome, their ability to learn and thrive is diminished.