I write in response to quotes in newspaper articles and at the Effingham County Commissioners’ meeting on Sept. 1, attributed to Effingham County Commissioners, in particular, Vera Jones and Forrest Floyd, voicing indignation at remarks made by Dr. Francys Johnson, Georgia State NAACP president, from an interview on an Atlanta radio station in the aftermath of a tumultuous Effingham County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 18.
My response is that the Commissioners are practicing selective outrage. Where was their outrage when our principal speaker, Bishop Franklin D. Blanks Jr., and I were presenting our case statements to the Board members and the assembled audience?
Our task was made impossible with crude, often racially-insensitive comments, supported by some 500 followers. Not one commissioner has expressed outrage at that behavior. Perhaps, more importantly, that evening not one Board of Education member tried to curtail the boorish behavior of the audience. Eleven elected officials, and not one of them has come forward with comments concerning that meeting.
I was not at the county commissioners’ meeting on Sept. 1. However, several NAACP members were. They reported to me that Commissioner Floyd publicly proclaimed that “outsiders” had inspired our request for a meeting with the Board of Education. That is completely untrue and insulting at the same time.
The implication is that the Effingham County branch of the NAACP does not have any members intelligent or willful enough to seek a meeting with the Board of Education concerning symbols of the Confederacy and other matters pertinent to the African-American community. Take my word for it! We do!
At the same meeting, Commissioner Jones had to take back some of the comments she had attributed to Dr. Johnson.
Here is the sequence of events. On June 17, 2015, nine innocent worshipers were murdered at their church in Charleston, SC, by a person displaying symbols of the Confederacy.
After receiving phone calls from former students and parents of current students, requesting that the NAACP voice their concerns about the displaying of Confederate symbols and the playing of “Dixie” at sporting events at Effingham County High School, I discussed this with our members at the July meeting.
A committee was formed. The committee asked that I write a letter, requesting a meeting with the Board of Education. In part, here is what I wrote, “We sincerely believe that we share the same goals, the continued excellence of the education of our youth in the Effingham County school district, and feel that properly addressing the issues at hand will only enhance that educational experience.”
The Board responded, establishing the August 18 meeting date. In the interim, Dr. Shearouse, the school district superintendent, asked to visit with us two weeks prior to the Board meeting. We had an amicable discussion concerning these matters. Then we went to the Board meeting, where we were treated abysmally.
Only after Dr. Francys Johnson saw a tape of that Board meeting, and only then, did he get involved. He has every right to do that as the State NAACP president. He was understandably outraged by that behavior towards our members.
We still seek that mature, civil meeting with the Board of Education members, as we did two months ago.
President, Effingham County branch of the NAACP