We are celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday 2020.
For the children, particularly our boys in Meridian, it appears the sacrifice was in vain.
Does it have anything to do with our public school, and our local communities are at a crossroad on how to serve our students?
The Meridian Municipal (now public), and Lauderdale County schools were established and designed to produce our future community and school leaders.
They can potentially go off to community colleges, liberal/non-liberal arts colleges, and universities, etc., acquire needed state-certified skills and licenses, and return home to help provide a better quality of life, for future Meridian and Lauderdale County people.
Now, we find out each school district; although governed (advised) by the same legal agency; are going in opposite directions.
The county schools has remained with the trends established years ago. Beginning in 1831 when Meridian was formed.
In 1875, Meridian created its initial public school.
In 1866-69 New Hope Baptist Church, and St. Paul United Methodist Church each established its own “colored” schools. In 1894, Jewish Rabbi Judah Wechsler built the first “Negro” school. They called it Wechsler. His brother David, in 1939, initiated his first intelligence test. He called it the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Early Education in Meridian was based on the 1870 Mississippi Constitution. Thus, formal education begun.
American-Africans have always had a hand in educating its people. Now, we see, someone was paying attention. Horace Ivy, L.O. Todd, W.A. Reed, Roger T. Smedley, Jenny R. Crump and others accepted the voice of true freedom. Educating the mind was primary. It allowed us to become more civilized. It allowed us to make better decisions in life. It allowed us to be more creative in life. Thus, Dr. King’s dream could be a reality.
So, go back to Mississippi; to the slums, and ghettos of our nation. Knowing that somehow this situation can and will change. It’s OK to dream. Have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state “STILL” sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
The Lauderdale County schools are hovering near an “A or B” in some schools. And the Meridian Public School District, with nearly double the elementary and middle school children, received a “D.”
What is the difference and why can't the city schools do better?
Happy Dr. King’s Day.
Randle Lyle Jennings is a Meridian resident and certified teacher.