Loudoun NAACP Leaders Find School Division’s Segregation Apology Lacking
Read the article below first and then double back and read all about “NAACP Proposed Terms of Conciliation For LCPS”
One week after the Loudoun County Public Schools division posted on its website a formal apology for its segregationist history, the Loudoun NAACP hosted a Friday night online forum during which members said much more needs to be done.
Chapter President Michelle Thomas dismissed the apology as “self-serving” and said Loudoun’s Black families are looking for more than just recognition of educational inequities—past and present.
The apology was issued as one element of Superintendent Eric Williams’ plans to combat systemic racismin the division, an initiative announced in June six months after the Virginia Attorney General’s Officeopened an investigationinto allegations of discrimination.
NAACP leaders said talks with school leaders to address their concerns have stalled in recent weeks and they now expect the AG’s office to issue its report, an action they said should be followed by a lawsuit seeking to impose corrective actions. It is not just policy changes likely to be on the table; the conversation, like many similar talks across the country, also turned to reparations.
County Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Supervisor Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian) participated in the 90-minute “community conversation” session. However, no members of the School Board or division administrators logged in; the audience was told that was on the advice of the school division attorney.
As NAACP leaders questioned the value of the apology, Randall said it had merit.
“I believe this is the beginning of a conversation that should be happening,” she said. “I believe the community as a whole deserved the apology.”
It is up to community leaders to decide the next steps, she said. “I continue to think the apology was well-meaning, but well-meaning by itself means not much unless we do the next step,” she said.
“I think it was more of an acknowlegment of what has happened and it seemed to be the first step as to how we move forward as an institution, as a community, together to ensure we are very intentional about working to resolve the hurt, wounds, the lack of sympathy or empathy, the lack of education, the lack of awareness, the pure ignorance of what had happened in the past and, honestly, a call on the carpet of what is happening today,” said Kenya Savage, adding that all community leaders should work together to make the system better.
Thomas questioned the timing and asked why the apology was simply posted online and did not include the involvement of community groups such as the NAACP and the Douglass School Alumni Association.
“LCPS must show good-faith efforts that they are intentional about taking corrective actions,” she said. “The first point of solving any problem is to admit you have a problem. This is the first point of doing that, but we want to highlight the disingenuous because they had 150 years to apologize.”
But she also said the time for talking may be over, as little progress has been made in conciliation talks over the past several months. “We’re beyond the first step,” she said.
Robin Burke said the organization has been pushing for changes that would improve access to challenging curricula, eliminate discrimination and harassment, eliminate discipline policies that disproportionately impact Black students, and eliminate bias in the hiring process. They’ve also requested the hiring of an outside consultant to oversee those actions.
Burke said she was hopeful the school district was following the blueprint of a similar process in Prince Edward County, where an apology was issued for the actions of community leaders who disbanded the public school system rather than comply with integration orders, resulting in $2 million being invested in systems to help children who were harmed. So far, four Virginia counties have received restitution, she said.
“I’m certain that will be NAACP Loudoun branch’s next demand in the apology,” she said. “I guess you have to put your money where your mouth is.”
While Thomas and other members expressed frustration with the current state of affairs, she remains optimistic that the tide is turning.
“Don’t lose heart. We’re making progress,” Thomas said.https://loudounnow.com/2020/09/28/loudoun-schools-issue-apology-for-countys-segregationist-past/embed/#?secret=qCtwcc6w9h