Editorial

Mary Kay Murphy isn’t an Antiracist School Board Member

Mary Kay Murphy stood by her words during in the courts. Does she not have an opinion about Brown v. Board of Education in 2017?


Published 10/26/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 39 sec

By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder and editor in chief 

If President Donald Trump thinks that Dr. Fauci has been around for 500 years, some of these school board members are dinosaurs with archaic practices. And if a school board candidate’s main platform is running on ‘law and order’ lite, declaring to “retain all school resource officers to protect students, teachers, and staff,” I will argue this school board candidate is completely out of touch with the demographics she’s serving and what the majority of parents of color are needing and demanding for their children.

In Gwinnett County, Ga. School Board incumbent Mary Kay Murphy is hollering “Save Our Schools” in the old confederate/segregated south, which is ridiculous considering Mary Kay has been on the school board since 1997. She’s had plenty of time to save the schools. 

So why does Mary Kay suddenly feel the need to clutch her pearls, snatch the brooch of her coat — quickly tossing it into her bag while simultaneously screaming SOS? Perhaps it’s because three Black women stepped onto the same elevator that Murphy claimed as her own. Well, maybe not literally. But, there is tea to be spilled. And I’m about to give y’all the full history of this lady.

Now, I know some of you reading this may be thinking I’m indulging in race-baiting. But let’s consider a few things, Murphy was still representing Gwinnett County at the outset of white flight before the school district drastically became more Black and Brown. Hence, the growing demographics of more Black and Brown students presents a new set of challenges that Murphy is unequipped to handle due to her own cultural incompetence.

Gwinnett County, Georgia, has seen its fair share of fights for racial justice in school board elections. Way back in 1991, a group in the town of Gainesville filed suit demanding an end to the at-large voting system that was preventing people of color from winning seats on the school board. That lawsuit failed and the issue persisted until civil rights organizations teamed up, sued again in 2016, and won

Thanks to their 2019 victory, which meant that school board members are voted on by geographic district, the board now has its first-ever Black member, Everton Blair. 

But while that lawsuit began to change history, other members of the board appear to be frozen in time. 

So let me state my premise clearly: I am of the opinion that Mary Kay Murphy, a Gwinnett County Schools incumbent, isn’t what academic Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Antiracist, considers an antiracist. And during these turbulent times, Black and Brown children cannot afford to have school board members who aren’t capable of calling a spade a spade; especially, if they don’t even know that they themselves are a possible spade.

Let’s just say, Murphy has some antiracist learning to do. And until she learns it, she doesn’t need to be representing anyone’s children, not even White children. 

Here’s why:

Author’s Note: Mary Kay Murphy’s responses highlighted in yellow. 

So when you go to the polls on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, just remember that when Mary Kay Murphy was asked: When you were teaching at said-school district in the 1960s, did you think the segregated system was fair to black students? And her reply was, “I had no opinion.” And when asked if she was in favor of segregated schools “at the time”, her answer was, “I had no opinion.” And then when asked if she had an opinion of it in 2017, she still answered “no”; chile, I’m here to tell ya today, that Ms. Murphy is still a spade 3-years after those sad answers. 

Damn! I’m still shook. 

It is 2020, and we are still pulling the weeds of racist thinking from the soil. 

How can someone claim to ‘wanna save schools’ and yet still can’t take a stand on Brown v. Board of Education decades after schools have been desegregated? Who is she trying to impress by these bold non-antiracist actions? 

While Mary Kay plans to continue funding police officers in schools, she doesn’t have a plan to address the generational trauma caused by systemic racism still affecting the Black children in her school district. 

Which leads to more questions parents should be asking:

Does Mary Kay Murphy believe in systemic racism?

Does she believe or understand what generational racial trauma is and what it looks like?

And if she does, how does she plan to tackle it? 

This is why the other three candidates are running. They aren’t running because Gwinnett County Schools needs more Black School Board members. They are running because they know that many of these current school board leaders aren’t doing their homework by trying to understand how systemic racism from every overlooked crack in our society is negatively impacting Black and Brown students. 

These three new candidates understand that school resource officers keep all those on the school grounds safe. But they are also well aware of the fact that systemic trauma is a variable affecting student outcomes. And one of the treatments/solutions is to gradually remove school resource officers as a means to reallocate funding to mental health therapists to students with high ACEs scores.

Check out the rest of this deposition from longtime school board member Mary Kay Murphy, that was part of the recent lawsuit:



Mary Kay Murphy, under oath, in a court of law, asserted she had no opinion about the importance of desegregating schools during the ‘60s and still had no opinion about it in 2017. From these sad answers, it’s quite clear that she is incapable of representing all students in Gwinnett County.


Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He’s also a freelance writer, appearing in TIME Magazine, Tulsa People, and Tulsa World. Frank graduated with a general studies degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member and chapter president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Today, he is a blogger for Education Post, based in Chicago, IL, and a board member for the Tulsa World, Tulsa Press Club, and Tulsa’s Table. He is also a public school educator at a local community-led charter school and is a member of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion. In 2017, Frank became a Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, a 2018 Black Educators Fellow and gave a TED Talk at the University of Tulsa.

Categories: Editorial