DETROIT, MI – Sixty-two years ago, there were those who asserted that the system of racial separation, masquerading as providing separate but equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead was one that perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, financing, and treatment for black Americans. The infamous case of Brown vs. The Board of Education found that separate but equal was indeed separate and unequal. It determined that separating public schools for black and white students, along racial lines, to be unconstitutional.
Have we not learned anything in the last sixty-two years here in the state of Michigan? Is Michigan the new home of Topeka, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, or Washington DC?
The lack of urgency to resolve the educational crisis in the city of Detroit, by some in the Michigan State Legislature, who along with governors of this state, have led us to inferior schools, inadequate financing, insufficient supplies, with a possible launching of a cadre of uncertified educators to teach in intolerable working conditions, takes us in a backwards direction, rather than towards a forward movement.
Is Michigan becoming the new Mississippi or better yet the old Topeka, Kansas?
There appears to be a great lack of concern for our children and the extreme political ideology around race and class, when it comes to the city of Detroit, our “state’s largest school district.” Shall Michigan force another third grader like Linda Brown, who lived in Topeka, Kansas sixty-two years ago, to walk six blocks to her school bus stop, just to catch a ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school, one mile away? She was forced to walk this distance, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was seven blocks from her home.
Will Detroit school children, in 2016, be forced once again to either walk, or be bused, or driven to suburban communities to get a decent education, while just down their block are local schools which could provide for such an education but who suffer from the mean-spiritedness of some elected officials who have turned their backs on their progress? The State of Michigan must be better than that!
The current proposals offered by the Michigan House of Representatives are unsupportable, inadequate, offensive, and a stench in the nostril of all people who believe in justice, fair play, and equality for all children and for all communities.
Detroiters should not be forced to seek alternative educational facilities when the state has a constitutional responsibility and a moral duty to provide education for all of its children. The so called deal between the Michigan House and the Michigan Senate is in reality no deal at all. For us, it is simply a steal from the opportunities of our children to have a quality education in the city of Detroit. We support the Bipartisan Senate Bill 710. We call upon all responsible legislators to vote on it now.
Reverend Wendell Anthony is President, Detroit Branch NAACP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org