Inaugural community conversation set for Feb. 27

By Larry Sutton - Contributing columnist

In their first ever public collaboration on a major current topic, the Sampson County NAACP and the Sampson County Chapter of the North Carolina A&T State University Alumni Association are sponsoring an inaugural community conversation, exploring the theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.” This community event is set for Monday, Feb. 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at First Baptist, 900 College St., Clinton.

In observance of Black History Month for 2017, this joint venture will provide a public forum in the format of a panel discussion with the panel members sharing their views and expertise on the myriad challenges black students face today. Appropriately, the 2017 National Black History Month theme announced by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded by Harvard graduate Carter G. Woodson in 1915, focuses “on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans.”

Following the forced migration of enslaved Africans to the thirteen colonies and later, to the United States of America, the early history of blacks in America was one in which blacks were largely excluded from the educational world. In fact, during slavery it was unlawful for slaves to learn to read and write. Records show that in North Carolina, there were no public schools for black children until after 1868. Later, in 1875, NC passed an amendment providing that “the children of the white race and the children of the colored race shall be taught in separate schools. Nearly, for the next 100 years, the laws, policies and practices kept schools racially separated in NC.

In reference to the upcoming community conversation, the NC A&T alumni members stated, “this event will provide the Sampson community a unique opportunity to learn more about the myriad influences contributing to the challenges in black education.” Viewing education as “the single most important job of the human race,” the organizers of Saturday’s community conversation shared, “we encourage everyone to become a part of this discussion, doing all we can to inspire a love of learning among our young people.”

The original “first lady” of civil rights, education activist Mary McLeod Bethune, an adviser to four presidents, including FDR and Truman, observed years ago, “We have a power potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”

Reflecting on the role of education in the struggle for racial equality in America, officials with the local A&T alumni chapter had this to say, “our history as a people is deeply rooted in education, and the future of our race still depends on the education of our young people.” Historically, the black community was at the forefront in promoting learning and education for its children, realizing the importance of education in every aspect of life.

Officials with both organizations are expecting something will be said “to encourage young people to stay in school and succeed in life.”

By Larry Sutton

Contributing columnist


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