Before, during and after the Effingham County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 18, the motivation of the Effingham County branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has been questioned, both in conversations around the extended local community and on social media. I will try to shed some light on the motivation and goals of this national and local organization.
I am an outlier in this organization. I am Caucasian and moved to Effingham County two years ago on account of health and financial concerns. Why am I an outlier?
Because almost all the 100 plus members are African-American and have roots locally, primarily in Effingham County. There have been allegations that this effort was inspired and organized by forces outside the area. False.
What has attracted me to this organization over the years has been its goal of achieving progress through discussion. That indeed was the goal of the effort to meet with the board members.
To confirm this, I quote from the letter that Leroy Lloyd, president, Effingham County Branch of the NAACP, wrote, requesting the meeting with the board. “The students intermingle easily in the classrooms, athletic courts and all other aspects of the school community. We commend the Board members, the school superintendent, Dr. Shearouse, your faculty, staff and of course the students themselves for this relationship.”
Later on in this letter, Mr. Lloyd writes, “In the spirit of fairness and justice we look forward to the opportunity to discuss the aforementioned issues with you. 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.”
These are certainly not demanding nor inflammatory words.
Asking for a discussion to begin is not demanding. It is one of the basics of an informed, open democracy. Hardly revolutionary. And, in fact, eight members of the local branch of the NAACP had a very amicable conversation with Dr. Shearouse two weeks prior to the Board of Education meeting.
Lastly, I commend the presentations of our president, Leroy Lloyd, and Bishop Franklin Blanks Jr., the pastor of First Union Missionary Baptist Church, at the Board of Education meeting. Their presentations were certainly hard-hitting, but also historical, intellectual, and informative. A person with whom I was sitting at the meeting remarked “I am close to tears, viewing and listening to Bishop Blanks’ courage in the face of negative comments.”
The comportment of the members of the NAACP and their supporters was laudatory, as it was at the town hall assembly in April. As such, the goal of the NAACP at the Board of Education meeting was and remains to begin an open discussion on issues pertinent to a significant minority in our school district.