Elvis Slaughter, in a Public Comment submitted to the District 215 School Board at their June 23 meeting
Dear TFD215 School Board,
Change is coming!
A heartfelt thank-you to my fellow community members, board members, residents, students, and TFD215 staff for the disciplined, yet powerful, protests for George Floyd. Our community has shown how the Black Lives Matter movement is transforming the future for the better.
I am sharing a post from Twitter: “You cannot teach Black children and be silent about the injustice against them.” This scenario is déjà vu to all of us who faced discrimination all our lives, so we must stand up for change. For inspiration, I am sharing another quote by James Baldwin I discovered during my struggles: “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
Actions speak louder than words. We must march on to achieve our shared dream. As in the past, I will speak at TFD215 school board meetings about the lack of equity and unfair hiring practices. The school board must do more than just promise, or deal with the deluge of appeals we will send to deal with nonperformance.
In true tradition, such as the movements against the Confederate flag in this great nation and the philosophy these events remind us about—weeding out hate and oppression—TFD215 must self-assess. Are we doing our part in eliminating injustice and systemic racism?
For many years, and today, TF South proudly honors the Confederate mascot, Richie the Rebel, by giving out awards yearly in his name, for instance. Although the practice was in humor, it offends African Americans with even the mention of his name. TFD215 school board members, teachers, union leader, staff members, and administrators were students or teachers during the Confederate flag and Richie the Rebel mascot removals. Saying they were unaware of the pain both caused to African Americans then and now is not helpful. The irony is that many TF South white students and staff became upset and enraged with racial hatred by the transformation.
Continuing forward, the school board must outlaw any semblances of the Confederate flag or Richie the Rebel on the school grounds. The school must also consider removing the word “Rebel,” (not “rebel”) as well because it is a haunting memory. Saying “Rebel Pride lives here” is almost as derogatory as saying “Richie the Rebel proudly lives here.” It is demoralizing for the community, and we must look forward to creating a better future.
Once again, thank you! We have a wonderful community. Your devotion and thoughtful concern for equality will inspire me and many others to come to work every day. My chest swells in pride for all the things we can accomplish together. Dear students, Generations Z, Y, and X, you are the future, and you must do your part to help humanity make progress. I feel so happy when I read stories in the media showcasing your efforts to help humanity make progress.
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