To All Superintendents and Elected School Officials, Especially Dr. Hooker and the Social Circle City School System,
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, Rev. Dr. King gave the speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break The Silence and left us with a powerful quote that still resonates today:
“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”
To act as if what is occurring across the nation is an isolated event is to turn a blind eye.
In a moment like this, we all need to be wide-eyed and in search of moments of truth and leadership. Truth is not always comfortable, but it is necessary.
I have known Social Circle City Schools as one who brought my parents together, where my Dad dedicated thirty years, where my Mom taught and was my basketball coach, where my Grandma drove school buses, where (as a baby) I was brought to track meets and basketball games as my parents coached, where I hosted and played in the first state game on the field… I also know Social Circle City Schools as one who exposed me to To Kill a Mockingbird, to a place where I had first-hand experiences of prejudices, to being called the n-word, to seeing desensitization as our mascot was/is the “Redskin”, to speaking up and calling for social justice (with some being acknowledged and others ignored), and to an administration that overlooked the power they had in my and others maturation and self-perception.
Power in education cannot be overlooked. The power teachers have in their classrooms to demand and set the tone. To the power principals have to say yes and no, to enforce or diminish. The power superintendents have to lead by example and then have it trickle down.
We can no longer see classrooms as simply classrooms. As curriculums and school years end, the influence and power of school systems continue to spill into our communities. SCCS has always prided itself on being a community, now we need to see this community come together to speak against hatred and inaction.
There is no time to be silent. We need you to speak out and confirm the worth and value of our students.
There is a shift in the atmosphere and the question is: Where will we be and what side will be on during this shift? Where will be when everything is said and done? There are certainly some things that need to remain the same. But there are certainly some things that must change.
There is power in words, but there is also power in silence. Desmond Tutu put it as so:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Just as my Grandma, Dad, and little sister graduated from SCCS, I too graduated from SCCS (in white converse and a toothy grin). In light of the recent statement regarding Covid-19, I am respectfully and courageously asking and calling for SCCS and other school systems to again step up, speak out, and mobilize for their students
I respectfully ask for a proactive statement, much in the sentiment of the Covid-19 statement. A statement to calm those students (and parents) who question their security and how they will be perceived in the classroom. From primary school to high school, these students must be seen differently moving forward.
Who is next?
The time is now.
P.S. To the superintendents and elected school officials: Thank you for making it to the end. I look forward to continuing the conversation, in whatever capacity that may be, so please let me know how I can be of assistance. To the parents, students, and teachers: Please share this letter with your local school system(s). The sentiment remains the same.