Thursday, February 16, 2006

Letters to the Editor

Proud heritage:
Dear Editor,

Feb. 1 has always marked a proud day for me. On that day, this country gathers itself for a month long remembrance of the legacy of African American contributions to the history of this nation. As a child I had always looked forward to the various history programs and the insight that those moments produced. I would often sit and diligently listen to the fervent speakers and emotive songs that reaffirmed my proud heritage, so rich in faith, culture and achievements.

This February marks a rather somber time in the commemoration of African American History with the recent passing of the mother of the Civil Rights Movement Rosa Parks and the First Lady of the movement Coretta Scott King. Their deaths serve as a constant reminder that all of the frontline soldiers in the wars for Civil Rights are slowly leaving us. Although we do not have to protest for the right to vote or boycott for a respectable seat on buses and trains, we should still strive to keep that vigil of courage and conviction in our hearts.

Fortunately, I was born in 1980 and did not witness the horrible atrocities my ancestors endured for hundreds of years. I am forever grateful to those who were willing to die to ensure that I may live in a world free of hate and inequality. When I first exercised my right to vote in 1998, and when I entered Morehouse College in 1999, I did so for the many thousands who died in hopes that one day I would have such an opportunity. Reaping the benefits of their struggle and creating opportunities for future generations is the very least that I can offer in return.

I recently viewed footage of a 1960s Civil Rights sit-in. I was moved to see a young and tearful African American woman being removed from a diner by two police officers while singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round.” I was immediately struck by her courage. That display of righteous assurance compelled me to give more of myself for the advancement of all mankind. It was at Morehouse where I learned that legacy is all about what you do and not about what you say.

As we build bigger churches and schools, I can’t help but wonder if we are building better people. It is my contention that during the Civil Rights Movement churches and schools empowered the people. We all must do what we can and sometimes we must strive to do what we can’t because God qualifies the unqualified. It is not enough for one to proclaim himself or herself a distinguished leader based on educational background or biblical knowledge. We can all lead by following: following the laws of God, the laws of this country and that of humankind.

While at Morehouse we sang a song entitled “God Give Us Men” which stated “Times like these demand strong mind, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands. God give us men who possess honor and goodwill.” It was such a privilege for me to attend Morehouse College and walk the same halls as Martin Luther King Jr., but it all will be in vain if I have nothing to contribute. It was such a privilege to attend Holly Springs High School with some of the most brilliant minds in the world, but it will all be in vain if I have nothing to contribute. Likewise, it is my great pleasure to be an heir to such a rich African American legacy, but it will all be in vain if I have nothing to contribute.

Lemuel Emmerson Ivy
Holly Springs

Support superintendent:
Dear Editor,

A few months ago the Holly Springs School District selected a new school superintendent. After much review by a professional selection team from the Mississippi School Board Association, Dr. Cynthia Gentry was given one of the top ratings out of many applicants.

She went before a community group as one of five finalists and was their top choice. Finally she was the unanimous choice of the five member Holly Springs School Board.

Now after all of these procedural steps to select the best person for the job this community finds itself discussing if Dr. Gentry should remain as the superintendent of the Holly Springs School District.

It is an absolute shame that some people have seen fit to go into the community with misleading, and in some cases completely false, information intended to do damage to a fine, well qualified lady.

I have to say, however, this is nothing new for some in this community, especially when it comes to our school system. For years now we have struggled to keep quality leaders and teachers in our schools, simply because when they attempt to make changes or work for the good of the children, individuals within and outside the system try to destroy them with false and misleading information.

I have three children in the school system and I am growing tired of all the instability that surrounds them daily as they try to get a quality education.

Most of the problems and issues have more to do with adults fighting over nothing than it does ensuring that the hundreds of children in our schools are getting a good education.

We also have many great teachers who work hard every day teaching our children. They to would like some peace for a change, in the system.

Dr. Gentry has come into our community pledging to make a positive difference in our school system. Like previous superintendents we should give her the opportunity to do so without the worry of being fired in the next called meeting of the school board.

Our school board has a tough job but so does anyone who tries to lead our school as superintendent. Many of those who are complaining could do no better, and most if they were qualified, would do worse. The root of most of this negative discussion is the result of Dr. Gentry making changes in the schools she thought were necessary.

Some of theses changes involve certain personnel, and whether you or I agree with the changes, the board hired her to do the job and we need to allow her the chance to do that job. I think most would agree that we need some changes in our schools, changes to make student learning the top priority.

Another reason for this attack on Dr. Gentry can be found in the “Willie Lynch” story. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, I highly recommend you read it and you will see what I mean.

No matter who had been chosen superintendent of the Holly Springs School District, they would be criticized if they attempted to make necessary changes.

If you want to keep your school the same as it has been for years, keep doing things the same old way. If you want to make significant progress, have the courage to support new ideas and methods even if the ideas come from someone other than yourself.

Kelvin O. Buck
Holly Springs

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