NAACP Culpeper #7058

Also Serving Madison and Rappahannock Counties

Category: Commentary

Dear Members of the Madison County School Board

August 1, 2022

To:
Karen Allen <kallen@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Nita Collier <nitacollier@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Damon Myers <dmyers@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Charlie Sheads <csheads@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Chris Wingate <cwingate@madisonschools.k12.va.us>

Cc:
Anna Graham <agraham@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Cathy Jones <cjones@madisonschools.k12.va.us>

Dear Members of the Madison County School Board:

First, I believe it is important to state that the NAACP is neither conservative nor liberal, but welcomes all who advocate for social, economic, political, and educational justice.

We often hear about the need to be “colorblind.” This concept sounds promising on the surface; however, in too many instances colorblind means oblivious to the needs and concerns of people of color. Contemporary research in education suggests that the profession has long been geared toward what is termed as the mainstream and has not included much-needed diverse perspectives. We do not wish for a colorblind society but one that sees color and all other manners of diversity—appreciating all with equal concern.

Affirmative action was codified in recognition that despite what America aspired to be, additional measures were needed in order to live out our creed of equality. According to Fortune magazine, fewer than 1% of all Fortune 500 companies have a Black CEO. According to the US Census, Black unemployment is among the highest in the country. On-time graduation rates for Black students are also among the lowest in the country. Median income for Black households is lower than other subgroups while they account for a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population. We can chalk these numbers up to coincidence or even push the blame on others to avoid taking a hard look at the systemic realities that still exist in our country. Ignorance however, won’t make inequities any less true. Persons who believe that our country is now free of racist policies are indeed colorblind in the worst sense of the term.

Mr. Wingate is confident that school leadership will rightly fire any school employee practicing discrimination but what about board members who so flippantly practice discrimination, whether removing the perspective of people of color from textbooks or refusing to acknowledge the rights of children regarding sexual orientation and identity? How do we appropriately respond when incidents of racism show up on buses and in classrooms? This is precisely why equity education and true diversity are needed.

Students are best educated one individual at a time; we should ensure a holistic aggressive and effective fight against all bullying and encourage good citizenship…” Penned by Mr. Wingate, these are the tenets of social and emotional learning; instruction that has been proven to increase both the self-efficacy and academic achievement of students. Core to SEL is the premise that we must understand our differences and respect others’ differences in order to learn to coexist in a healthy manner with our differences.

Because of the misinformation surrounding this topic, the Culpeper NAACP is planning an open forum on education to be held in the next several weeks. We will offer a panel of noted educators to answer questions relating to diversity and equity in education. Please plan to attend this forum and ask all of your hard questions. We all care about our schools; let’s work together.

Sincerely,
Dr. Uzziah Harris
President, NAACP Culpeper

The Fourteenth Amendment

Today is the anniversary of the day in 1868 that Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time, giving the federal government power to guarantee that state governments could not pass laws that treated some people worse than others.

The background to this constitutional amendment was that in the wake of the Civil War, former Confederates in the southern states had done their best to force their Black neighbors back into subservience. Through a series of laws known collectively as the “Black Codes,” state legislators in summer 1865 regulated how Black Americans worked, lived, worshiped, and conducted themselves, without any recourse to the law for protection when they were robbed, assaulted, raped, and killed.

The Black Codes, sometimes called Black Laws, were laws governing the conduct of African Americans (free and freed blacks). In 1832, James Kent wrote that “in most of the United States, there is a distinction in respect to political privileges, between free white persons and free colored persons of African blood; and in no part of the country do the latter, in point of fact, participate equally with the whites, in the exercise of civil and political rights.”[1] Although Black Codes existed before the Civil War and many Northern states had them, it was the Southern U.S. states that codified such laws in everyday practice. The best known of them were passed in 1865 and 1866 by Southern states, after the American Civil War, in order to restrict African Americans’ freedom, and to compel them to work for low or no wages.

But there was no way northern members of Congress were going to permit southern lawmakers, who only months before had been shooting at U.S. soldiers, to discriminate against the very men who had fought to save the United States.

Their solution was the Fourteenth Amendment.

The amendment overturned the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision that, in addition to declaring that Black men were not citizens and did not have the rights of citizens, declared that democracy was created at the state level by those people in a state who were allowed to vote. In 1857, this meant white men, almost exclusively. If those people voted to do something widely unpopular—like adopting human enslavement, for example—they had the right to do so. People like Abraham Lincoln pointed out that such state power would eventually mean that an unpopular minority could take over the national government, forcing their ideas on everyone else, but defenders of states’ rights stood firm.

And so, the Fourteenth Amendment gave the federal government the power to protect individuals even if their state legislatures had passed discriminatory laws. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” it said. And then it went on to say that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

But the amendment had to be ratified. In the midterm elections of 1866, the driving issue was the election of state legislators who would either pass or reject the Fourteenth Amendment. President Andrew Johnson, who had stepped into the presidency when an actor had murdered President Abraham Lincoln the year before, stood against the amendment and backed throwing power to the state legislatures. His support gave southern terrorists the confidence to attack formerly enslaved people not only in private, but also in deadly public riots that killed as many as 1000 people before the election.

For their part, the Republicans who wanted federal protection of equal rights also turned to the people but appealed to voters’ commitment to the principle of equality before the law. Senator James G. Blaine, Republican of Maine, later recalled, “The one…point…echoed and re-echoed by every speaker…was the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was evidently the unalterable determination of the Republicans to make that the leading feature of the campaign…to urge it though the press, to present it on the stump, to proclaim it through every authorized exponent of public opinion.”

Voters sided with the Republicans and the Fourteenth Amendment by a landslide against Johnson and the Black Codes. The Republicans won 143 representatives to Congress to the Democrats’ 49. The Republicans maintained similar control over the state houses.

“The importance…of the political struggle of 1866 cannot be overestimated,” Blaine recalled. “If the contest had ended [differently] the history of the subsequent years would…have been radically different. There would have been no further amendment to the Constitution,” and southern legislators would “sustain all the State laws already passed for the practical re-enslavement” of Black Americans, “with such additional enactments as would have made them cruelly effective…. [T]he result must have been a deplorable degradation of the National character and an ignoble surrender to the enemies of the Union,” who would then direct the government.

The state legislatures ratified the Fourteenth Amendment and added it to the Constitution in 1868, and in 1870 the federal government set out to enforce national equality before the law with the creation of the Department of Justice, whose first job was to bring down the Ku Klux Klan terrorists in the South who were assaulting and murdering their Black neighbors.

In the post–World War II era, the federal government again used the Fourteenth Amendment to protect citizens against discrimination at the state level when the Supreme Court began to use the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment aggressively to apply the protections in the Bill of Rights to the states. The civil rights decisions of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in public schools and the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, come from this doctrine. Under it, the federal government took up the mantle of protecting the rights of individual Americans in the states from the whims of state legislatures.

Opponents of these new civil rights protections quickly began to object that such decisions were “legislating from the bench,” rather than permitting state legislatures to make their own laws. They began to call for “originalism,” the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted only as the Framers had intended when they wrote it, an argument that focused on the creation of law at the state level. That theory is now dominant in the Supreme Court. Two weeks ago, on June 24, 2022, it rejected the federal government’s power to protect civil rights in the states, and more than a dozen state legislatures have rushed to outlaw abortion procedures.

Yesterday, Biden reached for the power embodied by the Fourteenth Amendment for the federal government to overrule state laws discriminating against citizens within their borders. But he also echoed the electoral fight to put that amendment in place when he told Americans: “We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality. I know it’s frustrating, and it made a lot of people very angry. But the truth is this…. [The] women of America can determine the outcome of this issue.”

Source: July 8, 2022 – by Heather Cox Richardson (substack.com)

NAACP Statement on the Madison County, Virginia School Board

 

 

NAACP Statement on the Madison County, Virginia, School Board

Media Inquiries: secretary@naacpculpeper.org

 

(7.6.22) The NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058, also representing Madison and Rappahannock counties in Virginia, has long prioritized education in our mission to achieve equality and eliminate race-based prejudice. We regularly partner with local schools to provide scholarships and educational resources for students and teachers.

Since February, when the Madison County School Board held its 2022 annual retreat, we have become increasingly concerned with statements and actions by members of the school board. In particular, we note:

  • Recent analysis shows that Black students in Madison County have consistently performed at lower levels than their white peers in reading, writing, and math; and graduated at a lower rate.¹ There have also been numerous incidences of students using racist language and engaging in racially motivated incidents on school buses, in classrooms, and on sports fields. However, at the April school board meeting, board member Charlie Sheads blamed parents for achievement disparities and erroneously stated that “the mission of Black Lives Matter is to destroy the nuclear family.” Members of the school board have repeatedly demonstrated a willful ignorance of history that has deprived many Black Americans of equal opportunities and contributed to disparities in education, including practices and cultural biases that persist to this day.
  • At the February 5th school board retreat, board member Christopher Wingate stated his concern about the school system’s goal of hiring a more diverse workforce, including African American teachers. Appallingly, he expressed caution that this should not hinder the system’s “pursuit of excellence.” Mr. Wingate also stated at the school board retreat that “with equity, there’s a focus on race, and of course we shouldn’t focus on race.”
  • The school board recently proposed extremist policy revisions designed to prevent students in need of affirmation and support, including LGBTQ students and those with abusive or dysfunctional family situations, from receiving counseling and resources. This would potentially endanger students and eliminate the “safety net” and privacy protections that many of our students desperately need. The policies demonstrate a clear mistrust of our educational and counseling workforce.
  • In June, despite protests from educators, parents, and community members, the school board voted to ban several texts from the high school curriculum, including a speech on the Vietnam War by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an acclaimed letter written by James Baldwin. Board member Christopher Wingate stated that the works did not reflect a “love of country” and patriotism. We would like to address this specifically by quoting Dr. King in 1967:

“Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love.”

The NAACP Culpeper Branch calls upon the Madison County School Board to become more educated about racial and LGBTQ intolerance in our community, our schools, and our nation’s history and to support the efforts of the MCPS administration by:

  • Focusing on creating a safe environment for all students where racism and bigotry are not tolerated, rather than creating undue and unwarranted restrictions on our professional educators and limiting resources for our students.
  • Upholding the language and the true spirit of the board’s 2020 Equity Statement and continuing the work of the Equity Task Force.
  • Committing to closing the school system’s achievement gap and addressing disparities in school discipline, and to teaching accurate and complete history including diverse and competing perspectives that will encourage critical thinking and empower students to succeed.

“No one should have to prove to you that racism exists. If you don’t see it, it’s because you choose not to. And that’s cruel and tragic.”

– Bernice King, CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

 

¹ Virginia Department of Education

 

 

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Uzziah Harris
President
NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058

This is Culpeper, and we deserve better. We can do better.

If you spend more time on SWAT training than in de-escalation training, then the results will match that investment. If you spend more money on special combat assault rifles than funding positions and partnerships for mental health, then the results will match your investment.

In short, you get what you pay for; only, we’re all paying for it—with both our taxes and our lives.

COMMENTARY: Culpeper shootings demand a cultural shift

We are a nation of plurality; our diversity is our strength. I would hope that despite where you fall on the political spectrum, you’ll hear my heart and help find solutions to the problems we face right here in Culpeper.

Unmasked: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

 

In the next episode of the series on Thursday, February 25 at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT, we will provide an update on the spread of COVID-19 and the latest research on vaccines, therapies, and options.

 

 

Moderated by ABC News Senior National Affairs Correspondent, Deborah Roberts, we will speak with champions at the forefront of stabilizing the crisis and ensuring a healthy recovery including:

  • Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP
  • Dr. Chris Pernell, Public Health Physician
  • Dr. Reed Tuckson, Founding Member and CEO, Black Coalition Against COVID-19
  • Dr. Cameron Webb, Senior Policy Advisor for Equity, White House COVID-19 Response Team

 

 

What it Means to Be an Anti-racist Teacher

We have to deconstruct the way that science is taught, the concepts that are included and the concepts that are excluded, because what we’re not talking about is also a problem—those silences in our curriculum are problematic.

Lorena Germán has worked in education for nearly 20 years. As director of pedagogy at EduColor, chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English, and co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, she has advocated for culturally sustaining pedagogy and practices. Nearly three years ago, Germán joined together with educators Tricia Ebarvia, Dr. Kim Parker, and Julia E. Torres to form #DisruptTexts, a grassroots movement encouraging K-12 English teachers to rethink their approach to teaching the “classics,” including deciding whether they need to teach them at all. In 2019, she published The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook, a resource to help educators develop anti-racist practices in their ELA classes. And late last year, Germán sat down with then-TT Professional Development Manager Val Brown to discuss the damage white supremacy causes in education—and the uplift inherent in reimagining the process. Their conversation included here, has been edited for length and clarity.

 

What it Means to Be an Anti-racist Teacher

Lorena Germán has worked in education for nearly 20 years. As director of pedagogy at EduColor, chair of the National Council of Teachers of English Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English and co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, she has advocated for culturally sustaining pedagogy and practices.

If your loved one is hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine, share this

(CNN)Your loved ones are right to have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine — the American public hasn’t watched vaccine development this closely since Dr. Jonas Salk discovered how to immunize kids from polio in the ’50s.

But vaccine hesitancy could put a dangerous damper on the country’s Covid-19 response. Pockets of some populations most at risk of severe sickness from Covid-19, including young nurses and Black Americans, are still dubious of the vaccine — because of the speed at which it was developed, its contents, and potential side effects.

To answer questions your family and friends may have about the Covid-19 vaccine, we consulted with two experts:

  • Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Dr. Ruth Karron, a leading vaccine expert and professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Medical experts, successful clinical trials, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have repeatedly assured us of the safety and effectiveness of the two Covid-19 vaccines available now, from Moderna and Pfizer.
But health experts take your concerns seriously, too, said, Schaffner.
“We have to regard everybody’s hesitation and skepticism seriously,” he said. “This is a new virus in the human population, new vaccines using new technologies, so you understand that people are somewhat hesitant.”

If your loved one is hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine, share this

To answer questions you or your loved ones may have about the Covid-19 vaccine, we consulted with two experts. The evidence supports the safety and efficacy of the two Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo Talks Ending ‘Lawful But Awful’ Policing

Meet the Police Chief who might just be one of the best leaders in the country. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is leading the calls for police reform from the inside — and today sits down with Carlos to discuss how police forces are more progressive than corporate America, but how still more needs to be done to root out “bushels of bad apples” and to end police tactics that may be technically lawful, but are nevertheless awful and inhumane.

To listen to the full, unedited conversation between Carlos and Art Acevedo, subscribe to the podcast version of the show here: http://podcasts.iheartradio.com/s_34Zjdh

© 2022 NAACP Culpeper #7058

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