20 July 2010
Contact: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Exec Dir, 919-682-4700
20 July 2010
Mr. Ron Margiotta , Chairperson, Wake County Board of Education
Dear Chairperson Margiotta:
On behalf of the four NAACP members you had arrested on June 15th, the hundreds of thousands of NAACP members in North Carolina and across the country, the hundreds of thousands of members of the 93 North Carolina organizations that share our commitment to the HKonJ 14-Point People’s Agenda, the thousands of people of faith, young people, Black people, Latino people and White people, and the signatories attached to this letter who have come together to stop your efforts to resegregate our schools, we hand you a letter with four petitions:
1. We petition you to hold Board meetings in a larger building at a time when working people can get there. If your right wing caucus is truly interested in discerning what people think about your zip-code zones, then the NAACP would be glad to work with you in finding a larger auditorium so people who have children in Wake Schools can come to try to reason with you.
2. We watched on TV as you appealed to the virtually all-white audiences in Republican Party meetings. You urged them to come to ‘our’ meetings to support ‘us’–referring to your Republican caucus. You said you needed good conservatives to fill all the seats. Although you did not call us “animals” there, as you did to our face, your aim was clear—fill all the seats with people who don’t want “us” and “our” children in “your” schools. This is not a game, Mr. Margiotta. You have in your hands the futures of 140,000 young people—the future of Wake County and North Carolina. You know that educationally, legally, and morally your policy changes are wrong. They shall, if implemented, take our community, state, and nation in the wrong direction. But still, you insist on playing the political game. We petition you to come to meetings we organize, and explain your secret plan to diverse audiences who have a different view of God’s human family.
3. We have petitioned you three times to permit the NAACP to make a substantive presentation to the Board based on the latest data about the deadly effect high poverty schools have on students of all colors who are consigned to them because their families were red-lined and forced to live in segregated Raleigh neighborhoods during de jure Jim Crow. Your zip-code zones fly in the face of fundamental pedagogical principles of quality schools, such as retaining high quality teachers and creating peer pressure and support for college-aspirational behavior. You rejected our offer three times, and forced us to organize our own public meetings, to give hope and voice to the thousands of Wake students and parents who oppose your games. Here, for the fourth time, we petition you to let us make this presentation in a venue and at a time that will accommodate everyone.
4. Four NAACP leaders, including two mothers of Wake County students, tried to give voice to their deeply held views to your caucus a month ago. You ordered us arrested. We were treated with great respect by the Raleigh police and the Wake County Magistrate. The Magistrate could have placed conditions on our release, but chose to release us unconditionally on our own recognizance. We were therefore free to exercise our constitutional right to petition the government for redress of our grievance that your secret plan will cause great damage to our children, our community, and our state. We will testify about this when we are tried in Wake County District Court. Until then, we are to be presumed innocent, and have the same rights as any other member of the Wake County neighborhood.
You, however, apparently presume us guilty. You, apparently, harbor a view that we are sub-humans, bent on disrupting your meetings. You permitted a letter from Mr. Russ Smith be sent to us that said: “Due to your actions and pursuant to Board Policies1326, 1330 and 2212 you are not permitted on any Wake County Public School System property where Board of Education meetings are scheduled unless you provide the Board Chair, Mr. Ron Margiotta, with written assurance that you will comply with the Board’s rules of order and desist from attempting to disrupt and or obstruct Board meetings. Failure to adhere to this directive will result in immediate legal action being brought against you.”
Our attorneys researched the legal basis for your letter. You are not a king! You cannot sit in judgment and decide who you like and who you dislike, and have those of us who you dislike banned from your meetings. Your threat to arrest two mothers who have children in Wake schools has had a chilling effect on them. Your threat has also had a freezing effect on thousands of other parents and students who disagree with the direction you are taking their schools, but may not have the resources to risk arrest by petitioning for redress of their grievances. There is no legal basis for you to target four people and put conditions on our exercising our rights. If such an arbitrary exercise of power is permitted, then anyone who your caucus is afraid of, anyone who your caucus decides disagrees with their views, can be arrested before they speak or made any disruptive actions.
By the way, we had no intention of even coming to your meeting this afternoon. We had decided to exercise our right to petition the government in places where there were people who respected the Constitutions of our state and nation. Many of the people who are getting involved in the Movement to Stop Resegregation, however, expressed a keen interest in coming to the public meeting of the School Board this afternoon. We felt obliged to accompany them. So, our fourth petition is for you to publicly withdraw your letter that pre-judged us, and instead show some southern hospitality and invite us into the public meeting to watch and to speak if the spirit moves us. If, after we speak, you believe we are disrupting the public meeting, then, and only then, do you have the right to ask us to desist, and then and only then can you exercise the powers of the state to arrest us.
For Our Children. We Will Never Go Back to Segregated Schools. We demand constitutional, diverse, excellent schools.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
c: All members of the Wake School Board
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President
Mrs. Amina Josey Turner, Exec Dir
P O Box 335
Durham, NC 27702
919-682-4700 V 919-682-4711 F
Wake County Public Schools