Editorial | By Nehemiah D. Frank
Education has been the literal-lifter of every oppressed people worldwide. It starts as a glimmer that appears in the distance and seemingly grows as one travaileth towards its irresistible allure. Education, being the attraction that yields to liberation, begins within the small confinements of the mind and eventually unlocks the map which leads over the mountains of insurmountable odds to the path of victory.
Since the heyday of the 1960s those once reachable tools of enlightenment, coupled with cultural empowerment, have since dwindled away in our nation’s public-school system. And although America was ready to integrate during the 60s and 70s, our country wasn’t willing to allow African-American teachers to empower African-American students culturally. Moreover, America felt no obligation to train white teachers on the social norms of African American culture.
Since then, we saw a sharp decline in African American teachers when white America took over our educational system. It was our educational system because we were forced by their law of Jim Crow to segregate. During that time we made nothing into something special with meagerly allocated funds they deemed equal – when they were not.
However, our present situation stresses for a new order mainly due to an evolved neo kind of Jim Crow the larger white culture can’t seem to shake-off. White flight from public schools to make district and suburban schools, which pulled tax dollars, along with their resources, out of the Tulsa Public School system. Now poor and lower middle-class students, no matter the race or culture, suffer from ill-trained or overworked teachers and African-American students always suffer the most.
Therefore, now is time; we must turn our eyes back to an era when excellence was the only standard expected. A day when education was so important that a man named Ellis W. Woods walked from Memphis, Tenn. to Tulsa, Okla. and became a legend.
We must internalize our ancestors’ African proverb of Sankofa and look back to wisdom of Frederick Douglass to find truth of our present day oppressions and remember that
“Without education, he lives within the narrow, dark and grimy walls of ignorance. Education, on the other hand, means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free. To deny education to any people is one of the greatest crimes against human nature. It is easy to deny them the means of freedom and the rightful pursuit of happiness and to defeat the very end of their being.”
There is still time left to save and restore our great legacy Booker T. Washington so famously named the Black Wall Street. But it begins with our children, and it starts with supporting schools like the new Greenwood Leadership Academy, and Sankofa Middle School is important.