A BASIC CIVICS LESSON: THE MAJORITY RULES

editorials, January 2019

The White Minority Challenges Majority Rule

Our students at Sumter County schools are taught a basic fact in their civics classes that the majority opinions and votes rule in a free, democratic societyeven if you disagree with the majority. The three White
Sumter County School Board members either never learned this fact of one man, one vote rule, or that they suffer from amnesia when it comes to their minority status; or they don’t believe in “the majority rule” now that they are in the minority.

The fact remains that this is a democratic society even in Sumter County and the minority is just that: the minority. Black school board members were in the minority for years and had to tolerate White majority decisions that were not in Blacks’ best interest. But, as Blacks tolerated those bad decisions, the Black minority board members didn’t write letters to the White majority’s employers asking for them to be terminated; didn’t call their colleagues’ nasty names, or worse, try to destroy the education system which they were elected to improve.

We believe that the endless school board uproar being orchestrated by the three White board members since becoming the minority is nothing more than seeking a political advantage through intimidation. The minority members have filed complaints with the District Attorney, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and the GA State Attorney General to investigate the black majority’s decisions and for not adhering to vague and unclear state procedures.

The DA has convened a grand jury, to question the school board members on unspecific charges. And the SACS upcoming investigation of the Black majority board members is based on a “hunch” by the three White minority members claiming that the Black majority violated state’s rules by meeting “secretly” before a board meeting. Even the state’s Attorney General was asked to investigate the school board.

The Black community views these “investigations” as nothing more than intimidation tactics, and a poor way to spend taxpayers’ money. The behavior of the three White board members violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the spirit of that law. The three have and continue to disregard the rights of the majority by attempting to intimidate them. But, in spite of all these “nonspecific” or “dubious” reasons for all of these investigations, the Black majority board members remain resolute that the decisions they made are withinthe law.

Blacks had to “live with” many bad decisions the White majority school board members voted for”, says Dr. John Marshall, the publisher of this newspaper. We need a school board that is responsible to the needs of all children and not just for the needs and wishes of three individuals, Marshall continued. The hiring of Dr. Roy Brooks, the school superintendent, was a bad decision that Blacks had to live with. The Black school board members voted against hiring Brooks, an African American. Brooks had a reputation of not relating to the Black community. The vote to hire Brooks was along racial lines, with the then White majority voted to hire him. Brooks was fired by a majority Black school board in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The White majority board has consistently hired school superintendents that are unqualified and closely aligned with then board chairman Dr. Michael Busman. Brooks and his predecessor, Dr. Dennis McMahon were acquaintances of Busman. Under Busman’s and Donna Minich’s leadership as board chairpersons, they operated with absolute authority because of their White majority voting members’ status. Most of their decisions were not in the best interest of all students. Busman still sits on the school board and leads the noise to stir up uninformed Whites in our community to create roadblocks for the Black majority board.

Americans take their voting rights seriously, especially Black Americans. Blacks (and others) spilled their blood to have the right to vote. And to have three White board members, who can’t deal with their new minority status, try to circumvent the majority board members’ rights is unlawful. Democracy is not a convenient thing; democracy still applies even when one’s situation changes from a majority to minority status. And to imply that the current Black majority board members can’t govern is an insult. As a seasoned educator and with over twenty years as a school board member, Chairperson Ann Green governed wisely and fairly to make the school system better for all our students, regardless of race, social or economic status.