My Convertible Life

Monday, July 26, 2010

Student Stands Up, Speaks Up for School Diversity

I didn't attend last week's rally and protest by supporters of Wake County's now-eliminated diversity policy. My reasons for not attending were typical and (let's be honest) a little lame -- I had to work and couldn't take the time off while balancing job, kids and my daily life. Because I wasn't there, I'd decided not to write about it -- it's not like you all don't know where I stand on the issues. 

But someone I know was there -- he's 15 and a student in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). 
After the march, he and his mom submitted a letter to the editor about his experience. I don't know if the paper will run the letter or now, but I wanted to be sure it got printed somewhere. Thank you, Seth, for standing up for what you believe in and for trying so hard to be heard when others (like me) were silent. Here's the letter:

I took my 15 year old son to Hillsborough Street at 8:45 this morning. He took a CAT bus to the Convention Center and participated in the march to the Capitol where he stood alongside over a thousand other people, in 95 degree heat to hear all the speakers at the rally. He walked to Pullen Memorial Baptist Church to pray and prepare for the school board meeting. He left there and went to the school board where he waited outside for forty-five minutes, then spent four hours inside trying to obtain a ticket to attend a public meeting where he signed up to speak. After ten hours of working for an opportunity to express his views, he saw the School Board move into “closed session” instead of continuing with the public hearing. Here is what he wanted to say:

“I have spent 11 years in the WCPSS. I am proud to be in a school system recognized across the country as a model for diversity within education. Sadly, this is about to change because of five close-minded board members. I am a product of a school system that taught me to value diversity. I understand that when I graduate, I will enter a diverse world. I will also graduate with the understanding that I can learn something from every person I meet – black, white; rich, poor; conservative, liberal. It is also my responsibility to share what I know with others. And what I know is that a neighborhood school system will segregate schools based on socio-economic status and create unequal opportunities for learning. It will also prohibit current and future students from benefitting from the diversity that was so important and relevant in my education.

“In January, I was honored to be asked to read a litany at a joint service with Pullen Memorial and Martin Street Baptist Churches. I was humbled to read words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would take the words that he once spoke and make them resonate in my life, and throughout the world. That is why I will never stop fighting for a diverse, public school system in Wake County.”

Dr. Jill Hinton and Seth Keel

Photo from The News & Observer.

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