Thoughts From The Chairman….
Re-Segregating Seattle Public Schools
By Chris H. Bennett
Chairman, Seattle Medium
The infamous Alabama Sheriff, Bull Connor, is one of American history’s most notorious segregationist. His embracing of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s slogan, “Segregation now!!! Segregation forever!!!” was brutally enforced upon African Americans with the most inhumane tactics known to mankind. The recently released movie “Selma” touched lightly on Connor’s antics against Blacks.
In Washington State’s current legislative session, the State’s 37th District’s two minority representatives, one Asian and one Black, sponsored and introduced legislature that could rival Bull Connor’s most racist segregationist action against Blacks and other minority groups. House Bill 1860 as currently proposed by 37th District State Representatives Sharon Santos (D) and Eric Pettigrew (D) would divide the Seattle Public School District into two (2) Districts —-one North Seattle and one South Seattle. Civil Rights organizations have fought for years to integrate the Seattle Public Schools with marches, demonstrations, court actions, walkouts, redistricting, etc. Name it and the community did it.
And now these state representatives, acting as apparent modern day segregationists or the ghosts of Bull Connor, would disregard all past efforts by the community to eliminate segregation by introducing a house bill that re-segregates the Seattle Public Schools——one predominantly White (north) and one predominantly minority (South) returning to the extremist of segregation of separate and unequal. It does not take rocket science to figure out which schools get the majority of the state tax payers’ funds to operate. Of course, it would apparently be the predominantly White northern schools.
I received many calls after an article about the proposal appeared in the District’s largest newspaper, the Seattle Medium. Most were shocked, and their comments could be summarized as “dumb”, “irresponsible”, “disbelief”, “horrible” and accusations of “re-segregating.” Many questioned if their thinking was impaired, particularly, with many referencing and pointing to the well publicized report of the State Patrol stopping Rep. Sharon Santos (D-37th) with accusations of erratic driving a few years ago when she was in route from a local International District bar to her south Seattle home, citing the Asian community political leader with DUI, according to news reports then.
On the other hand, neither has any known credible stakeholder credentials in the Seattle Public Schools. Pettigrew’s children attend private schools. Rep. Pettigrew is originally from California and attended college at Oregon State before working in Mayor Norm Rice’s Administration at city hall.
After Pettigrew’s first session in the State House of Representative he ran a big insurance company’s regional office in the Black Community
(23rd Ave. and Jackson) during the times of community unrest with protests of redlining by banks and insurance companies, including accusations against his company for redlining certain zip codes in their service area.
One community activist stated, in reference to Pettigrew’s recently sponsored bill to save the African Elephant, “Eric appears to care more about the lives of animals than the lives of Black children.” Another stated you would think if they were going to mess with the politics of Seattle Public Schools, it would make more sense to straighten out school board voting districts to elect board members completely by districts in both the primary elections and the general elections. Presently, Seattle school board candidates must successfully run in districts during the primary elections with the two highest vote getters running city wide in the general election. A Mickey Mouse way to keep groups and cultures from being represented in Seattle Public Schools, a school district that at one time had three elected Africa Americans out of the seven board members.
For the record, currently there is no American born African Americans on the school board. One would have to ask, what impact did this Board have on the re-segregation proposal by Pettigrew and Santos. Does the father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson, in his 1933 book, The Mis-Education of the Negro, describe Representative Pettigrew when he gives examples of the mis-educated Negro? Are we so far removed from Black History in this 21st Century that we are repeating past mistakes detrimental to our growth and development as a people? Are we going to allow mis-educated Negroes to take us back possibly even to slavery one grave mistake at a time? Or, are we going to stand up for our rights regardless of who the establishment uses in their attempts to mis-educate us as a people?
After months of local and national protests, some of the protests got pretty violent against protesters by law enforcement, around the Michael Brown and Eric Gardner killings respectively by Ferguson, Missouri and New York City Police Departments, with many protest signs everywhere stating “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” and, of course, “Black Lives Matter”. With all these protests and all the unrest going on because of violence perpetrated by the various police and sheriff’s departments locally and nationally, the all White Washington State Police Chiefs and Sheriffs’ Association awarded State Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37) it’s legislator of the year award. He gracefully accepted the award with all the happiness of a “skinners and grinners” club chairperson delight – typical of an apparent mis-educated Negro.
To re-segregate the Seattle Public Schools call for action of bold and uncaring person(s). Most White politicians were politically afraid to try this Bull Connor like action, but not the 37th District’s Eric and Sharon. For their disrespect of our community, our children and our heritage, State Reps. Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Santos deserve bold and unprecedented actions via the community and accordingly they should be the 2015 Bull Connor Awardees.