These self-proclaimed leaders have been meeting to strategize how to kick Booker T. Hodges out of his office as president of our local NAACP. Mr. Hodges spoke what was on many people’s minds when the Star Tribune wrote an October 14, 2010 article about his statement, igniting the eruption of another firestorm related to the closing of North High School.
Instead of journalism, the article expressed a bias against President Hodges.
These same self-proclaimed “leaders” read Chapter 14 (Black Organizations: Now Part of the Problem Rather than the Solution) of my 2002 book (The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes) and then rather than fix things had me expelled from the NAACP (no one has yet said it was inaccurate). Now they are after Mr. Hodges’ right to free speech.
I was very interested in the comments the Star Tribune attributed to Chris Stewart, outgoing board of education director, as the new vision, new direction, and new hoped-for success he proclaimed four years ago never happened. Mr. Hodges, up for re-election this November, merely stated what was on the minds of many, as revealed even more by actions of parents.
I attended the meeting on saving North High School (400 attended, 50 spoke) on Monday the 18th. A revealing chart showed significant decline in North High enrollment of almost 1,400 students since 2002. No surprise: In this column over two years ago, in the June 11, 2008 edition of this newspaper, we identified this dangerous pattern.
If Councilman Samuels can say “burn the school down,” certainly Mr. Hodges has the right to present a much more humane option. And so, it has not been surprising that meetings have been held by Black “leaders” and representatives of the school district regarding ousting NAACP President Booker T. Hodges. My question remains: why?
Was there something Mr. Hodges said that was inaccurate? How would the school district or these “leaders” know differently when they never carried out “exit interviews” with the students and families who left? The school district was too busy encouraging students to transfer, hastening the gentrification: turning Black neighborhoods into White ones. Again, I ask, why?
Why is what the president of the NAACP said, expressing his opinion about what he has heard, treated as such an egregious offense that school and community “leaders” have to meet to talk about ousting him?
Why kill the messenger? Why continue to avoid seeking solutions and better understanding of how to provide real education success that has long been denied to many African American students, as admitted to by Council President Johnson. Again I ask, why?
I call Council President Barb Johnson’s comment in the Star Tribune article that the enrollment and achievement problems have been known for years “a smoking gun”: known and accepted by the council with no action taken to fix it.
With this city’s attitude, is it any wonder voters no longer trust the district to educate their children, build their self-esteem, and to guarantee their success?
Let’s stop making it politically and morally dangerous to talk about the reality of the mis-education of the African American student. Are there grounds to remove this sitting NAACP President? I say no.
Even though the NAACP has not always been all that we have wanted it to be, the continued failures and obstructions placed in the path of Black success in Minneapolis says that a lot of institutions have purposefully changed focus to the detriment of our community. Mr. Hodges should be listened to just as those who left should have been interviewed and listened to.
Clearly, those victims’ observations would reflect the failures of the system that need to be corrected. Those who left would have offered some solutions, my friends, and it is embarrassing that they were not respected and listened to.
The strategy to introduce charter schools into the community as a substitute to public education is understandable but not acceptable as a first step, based on the legacy of public education in America.
We are fast approaching that dark past when it was said that the children of the African American should not be concerned nor interested in being educated beyond the seventh or eighth grade. That is totally unacceptable and extremely immoral, and presents significant and dangerous tremors within the foundation of the democratic institutions and the democracy that we have all come to expect will protect all of our rights equally.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOn TheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.