Tarboro NC – Lack of communication upsets parents, schools

I attended the East Tarboro meeting and I am trying to get the video uploaded so that others can see what she said at the meeting. C. Dancy II – DCN Publisher

The East Tarboro community forum last Thursday provided a platform for parent Shanelle Knight to vent about the school system, but left a sour taste in the mouths of educators with Edgecombe County Public Schools. (The Daily Southerner)

Tarboro NC – ECPS & EDUCATION: Let’s Compare Apples and Apples

A very brief discussion of education, about back in the day, during a meeting on June 4th, 2009 brought memories flooding back, quite difficult to shut off.

One Apple.

June 1948. The end result of my high school education at W.A. Pattillo in Tarboro was an offer to apply for a chemistry scholarship from the University of Rochester NY . Plus, I received the Bausch & Lomb honorary science award. All thanks to my science teacher Mrs. Suzanna Thomas. In all the years I attended Pattillo schools I never saw a NEW text book. They were all hand-me-downs from White schools, some with pages missing. In winter the heat was off half the time. No Air Conditioning. No lunch room. No gym. No bus transportation. Football uniforms were those discarded by White school teams. Black teachers were paid half that of White teachers.

Now, here is something that I know will work in today’s schools. Back in the day, high school students, beginning with freshmen, were told that they were now young adults and they were expected to act as such and would be treated as such. Being at the silly age we giggled at first. We very quickly became serious however. The faculty would address students as Mr. or Miss.. We as students would acknowledge members of the faculty in the same manner. If you had to be reminded too many times, you would receive a lecture from the principal Mr. W.H. Pattillo. One only wanted one of those. We were taught to say “thank you” and “please” when appropriate. The social graces. You know, hold the door open to let ladies enter a room first. Open car doors for ladies. You know what? They told us they were preparing us for college and for everyday life!

If a student had a problem of any kind he or she could confide in any teacher. All teachers were counselors. And then there was something about a truant officer. Ever heard of one? I never saw him or her, Black or White, but the word was your parents never wanted a visit from one. Your parents told you that.

Some teachers were better counselors than others however. My French teacher, on the very first day of class, took one look at me and I at her and decided not to like each other. Sure enough,one day during French class she sent me packing to the auditorium and told me to start washing the windows during French class for five days. My infraction? I had a song sheet tucked away in my French textbook and I was memorizing the words to the latest song by Nat King Cole. The next day the principal saw me sitting in the auditorium and asked me why. I told him everything and he left. He was back in a few minutes and told me to go back to class. I did. I never made above a D+ in French no matter how hard I tried. But I never washed one window.

The other Apple.

Following is part of a letter in Discover Magazine August 2008, written by Jay Michalsky of Altadena CA : “I was in elementary school in the 1960s and still remember many of the things I was taught in New Math. I know the difference between a number and a numeral. I know what the union of two sets is. I can count in base 8 , and I know the numerals in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I also know the commutative and associative properties. WHAT I CAN’T DO IS ADD, SUBTRACT, MULTIPLY AND DIVIDE!” Can you? I can.

My son was born in 1963. I could not help him in his New Math. I could only pray for him. We never even held a discussion about so-called New Math. Ever.

It is said that problems within our school system(ECPS) are not due to a shortage of money. There is therefore no shortage of supplies and physical plant, one can presume. We have children who are excelling in school each year. However too many are barely average and far too many are below average achievers. So, what’s the problem? Nobody will tell us. So, from that, we are left to draw our own conclusions. One conclusion. Though there is “a plenty of money” it is not being spent wisely. OK, how about teacher pay? Still too low. But at least it is not a Black-White thing. Is it? What about principals? How many Black ones? How many White ones? The last time I asked that question I was stonewalled. OK, so we have lunch rooms. I hear children can get breakfast if they come to school hungry. Money wisely spent. No truant officers? Ugh. Not enough counselors or NO counselors? Ugh.

OK, how about suspensions? Word is the superintendent won’t hear cases where suspensions are less than 10 days long? No Kidding? No Kidding. No matter how many short-term suspensions are heaped upon a child. Easy pickings for revenge. I think the word is retaliation, without the super knowing about it. Another word is “remedy”. “Remedial tactics”. Against our children. Now they say, the reasons or circumstances for applying remedial tactics, they say, are confidential. No Kidding? Why then, are the parents so eager to make public the reasons when ECPS is not? Sounds like tyranny. Though Black students are disproportionately subjected to remedial tactics, the children of White parents are also victims. One in three Hispanics. One in three Other. And it goes on and on.

This discussion is dismal. We should be throwing rose petals at our super and faculty. Instead it’s barbs. We get generalities or nothing when we ask for information. The PR person has form letters at the ready. By the way, that should not be a career appointment. In fact, I think it is ineffective. It serves no useful purpose. By the time one gets to the head office building one is not interested in PR. One wishes to see the super. Now that’s where the bobbing and weaving starts. Vague answers. Approximations. Like 15-20% reduction in suspensions. Reduced from what to what? Approximations are cop-outs. So we still don’t know the rules or events that trigger a suspension. So we still don’t know who gave the super the authority to ignore suspensions under 10 days. So we still don’t know if a child gets enough to eat and has a good place to sleep and to study. We still don’t know if our children are loved and respected and taught the social graces. We still don’t know why our Black children are disproportionately suspended, when they clearly need the most help IN school.

The law says every child in North Carolina is entitled to a good, sound, basic education, guaranteed. It also says a child is not learning if he or she is not in school.

So, get busy ECPS. As someone recently said, “We have exactly enough time, starting now.”

Richard H Parker Jr.

Tarboro NC



Tarboro NC – Topics vary at E. Tarboro public forum

I attended the meeting and found it to be quite interesting. I want to commend Greg Higgs for having continuous meetings in the area. The only problem I had was the meeting was too long and sometimes got out of control. It was too much information for one night. I trust that the next meeting will be shorter and cover less topics.

I was excited to see so many concerned citizens packed in the Oakland house meeting room and I hope the citizens stay involved. It is going to take community meetings like that to bring about change. C. Dancy II – DCN Publisher

A parent was upset with the schools. A man told about jobs available in neighboring Roberson County. An elected official told about her plans to help ex-offenders. The police promised to protect and serve. And the recreation director said programs would be provided but volunteers were needed to coach and youth needed to participate. (Daily Southerner)


Tarboro NC – EAST TARBORO PUBLIC FORUM by Richard Parker Jr. Columnist

Community Self-Help.

Our Community Forum on May 28th 2009 at the Oakland House in East Tarboro was wonderful and in my opinion, very successful. Thank you Mr. Greg Higgs and Councilman Melvin R. Muhammad. My special thanks to our guest speakers. There was one invited guest in particular, who deserves special attention and consideration. But first, a parallel.

President Johnson signed into law an Executive order, I believe in 1964, ordering all corporations to begin hiring African-Americans. It benefited me directly because shortly thereafter I was hired as the first Black male of a one hundred year old corporation in Philadelphia. Lo and behold, shortly after that, the maintenance supervisor was promoted to Building Manager. An executive meeting was held to name a new maintenance supervisor. Jack Salzstein, the building manager to-be advised ,”we have a man but he is colored”. Mr. R. Bruce Jones said, “Well then,I`ll go see Mr. Batton.” And off he went. Mr. Harry Batton, Chairman and CEO, after hearing Mr. Jones, said, “ Mr. Richard Parker, the man I talked to on the phone that Saturday morning?” (THAT`S another story) “Give him my blessings”. Now here is the clincher.

About six months into my new job, Jack called everyone into a conference room, first thing on a Friday morning. He sat us ALL down then began to chew everyone out about a case of fluorescent tubes being left on the receiving dock overnight. He said “if it happens again, heads will roll”. Then he just turned and walked out. We were stunned. Suddenly everyone looked at me as if for an explanation. I didn`t have one. EXCEPT; in my mind I KNEW intimidation when I saw it. Plus Jack was trying to hang on to his old job because he didn`t know his new one! I said to my men and one woman, “Jack did not confide in me. I could have avoided this. He is trying to pull my teeth”. “ there is only one thing to do. Everyone call in sick on Monday. I too, will call in sick. Then, everyone come to work on Tuesday. I will handle it from there.” They did just that.

Three days later, Al Evans the Director, Jack and myself, met in the same conference room and Jack, as ordered, made a “public apology” to me. Why ? That`s another story. But I was maintenance supervisor for the next 10 years. Period.


A young man sitting behind me in the forum said the police, in effect were not providing enough protection for East Tarboro citizens. Councilman Muhammad asked Town Manager Sam Noble to respond to this young man`s concern. First Ol` Sam said something like, Give me your name and come see me. I`ll take care of it. The young man, “Are you a policeman?” THAT did the trick. Ol` Sam went into his act. He turned real red, then stood up and hitched up his pants. ARROGANCE: Something like this, “I work for the mayor. I work for the mayor and the eight town councilmen. Everybody else works for me,” as he stared down the motionless row of people making up his entourage. INTIMIDATION!

Sam has forgotten that HE also works for Black people and White people AND Hispanic people, all known as the Citizens of Tarboro North Carolina. We pay his salary, which he has not earned in 20 years plus. He has destroyed the lives of the people of over 28 families under the guise of saving the town some money.

Parks and Recreation needs a whole new organization from top to bottom. Mr. Pettaway says he has new programs and all he needs now is volunteers and children to come. I remember Pettaway and Mitchell saying in the last “Neighborhood Watch” meeting held at Ray Center that the two of them cruised East Tarboro for 12 years trying to get children to come to Ray Center, but couldn`t get anyone. They said they used their own cars too. And they still need volunteers and children to come? They should be fired. Not as long as Ol` Sam is around, however. I think he should go too. OH yes, I volunteered over 3 years ago and was never called. Instead, I was barred from Ray Center by Lee Perry and Jarvis Pettaway. I had reported a leaky roof to the Daily Southerner. RETALIATION!

November elections are near the horizon. Remember 2007? That was a VERY good year. I urge our young people to step forward once more and COMPLETE THE CHANGE. We need a new mayor and town manager. We need a makeover at Parks and Rec. We need women on the town council as well as more young men. Then we can have true Open Government, as or able Editor at the Daily Southerner has so often spoken of.

Richard H. Parker Jr.

Tarboro NC 27886-5117


Speaking Truth to Power – The Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan “The Man with the Plan.” Literally Community Self-Help by Richard Parker Jr. Columnist

Don`t be concerned President Obama. The Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan received over fifty honorary degrees, and, President Obama you have already influenced more lives, I do believe, than anyone else. You will surely catch up.

The Reverend Dr. Sullivan influenced my personal life far greater than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, though Dr. King had greater influence in my professional life. But, of four people, I have held The Reverend Dr. Sullivan as my greatest role model.

Yorktown. A creation of the City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the FHA and HUD. Lesson learned: Always know what the city/town planners are up to. Ask that our councilmen keep our ward citizens informed.

In 1964 I moved my family back to Philadelphia from Richmond Virginia. Having found good employment I started looking for permanent housing. My cousin and family had purchased a new home in Yorktown(of 650 townhouses) and thought there may be a few left in the 1500 block of 13th Street. I took a look and there were just two left, 1502 and 1504 at 13th and Jefferson Streets. One block from Broad Street. The entire city blocks between 13th and Broad north of Jefferson and south of Jefferson were empty otherwise. Little did I know that I would be in a position to daily watch history in the making. I bought 1504 N. 13th Street. Beyond my backyard there was nothing but wasteland all the way to Broad Street. The future home of the first Progress Plaza Shopping Center.

In the 1400 block of Broad Street, just south of Jefferson, the 1st OIC was to spring forth. The story of these two giants is nothing short of amazing and almost unbelievable until one begins to understand the man and his dream, behind it all.

The Man – Leon Howard Sullivan

Born October 16th, 1922 in Charleston West Virginia.

At age 3 his parents divorced. At age 12 he stopped at a drugstore on Crystal St. in Charleston to buy a coke. A white man told him, “Stand on your feet boy. You can`t sit here”. The Reverend Sullivan said that incident set his life course. At age 18 he became a Baptist minister, some 6ft., 5in. tall . In 1943 Reverend Adam Clayton Powell brought him to New York to serve as assistant pastor. 1n1947 Reverend Sullivan received his Masters degree in Religion at Columbia University . 1950 – 1988 he was pastor at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango Sts. in Philadelphia, where he quickly earned the title “the Lion of Zion”. Over the years his membership grew from 600 to 6,000.

1940s Helped organize a March on Washington.

1958 Reverend Sullivan asked businessmen of large companies in Philadelphia to start hiring African-Americans. Only two responded. So, along with other Baptist churches, he organized “Selective Patronage”. Polite words for boycotts. At the time the city was 20% Black. The slogan was “Don`t buy where you don`t work”. In 4 years thousands of jobs opened up. The boycotts were so successful that Dr. Sullivan advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. But this was not good enough for the Reverend Sullivan. He said, “ I found that we needed training. Integration without preparation is frustration”. So in 1962 he organized Zion Investment Association.

The Dream

It happened one Sunday morning in 1962. The Reverend Sullivan had this vision for community self-help, due to all the poverty and despair he saw all around him in North Philadelphia. On this Sunday he preached about Jesus feeding the 5,000 it is said , “with a few loaves and a few fish”. He said to his congregation that he would like to do something similar with their help. He asked if he could get 50 members to invest $10.00 a month for 36 months, toward forming Zion Investment Association. The Reverend figured that would be a reasonable number to start with. After all, he reasoned to his congregation, this would be an investment for the next generation. He wanted to build a community-owned economic base, he told them. Not 50 but over 200 signed up that morning.

Just 16 months later Zion Non-profit Charitable Trust (ZNPCT) was created, parent for Community Development Corporation. Thus, OIC was born. They wanted to start training people as soon as possible, with no profit motive. Opportunities Industrialization .

After 20 more months a FOR-profit corporation was formed, named Progress Investment Associates . The first 10-36 investors each received one voting share with a promise for dividends in the future. The KEY to all of this was a sense of ownership and a stake in the common good for the community.

Progress Investment Associates made their first investment in 1964. They bought a 8-unit all-white apartment building in an all-white neighborhood.

In 1965 the 10-36 Plan was opened to new subscribers (church members) and 450 more joined up. These subscribers made Zion Baptist Church a financial force to be reckoned with. This same year Progress Investment Associates built Zion Gardens, a middle-class garden apartment complex in North Philadelphia. A one million dollar project, it was leveraged with 10-36 funds, a loan from the FHA and a grant from HUD.

The Reverend Leon Sullivan convinced the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to DONATE the wasteland behind my backyard, that 1500 block on the East side of Broad St., to Progress Investment Associates. A whole city block facing Broad Street. Now it was time to go to the bank, the First Pennsylvania Bank. He saw the chairman and asked for a construction loan. The banker told Reverend Sullivan to come back in two, three or four years and they could talk. The Lion of Zion was ready for that one. He asked his treasurer to open the sack. Out came $400,000.00 worth of equities. The Reverend said the banker`s eyeglasses fell off his face. He jumped up, came around the desk and said they can talk. They shook on it. The Reverend said,” I found that $400,000.00 makes a difference in race relations in America”.

Thus, in 1968 the first Progress Plaza Shopping Center was opened, virtually in my backyard. First Penna. Bank opened a branch there . A&P opened a very nice super market there. OIC was at 1415 North Broad Street, south of Jefferson St..

A Jobs training center was opened on the 2nd floor of the main shopping center building, just behind my backyard. There was a 10-foot brick wall then a service street between me and the Shopping center. This training center was heavily funded by the Ford Foundation. The non-profit arm, the Community Development Corporation, also built a Human Services Center. They leased space at below market value in order to get a Social Security Office, Unemployment Compensation Office, Police Training Center and Health Services Center run by Temple University, located in a more convenient location for North Philadelphia citizens.

The rest is history. OIC went international (OICI). Progress Plaza(PIA) went international. There are the Global Sullivan Principles.

The idea behind the Zion Investment Associates` creation was to have something community-owned, to pass along to the next generation. Plain and simple. With today`s economic situation it is all the more reason to want to “gather together with a few loaves and a few fish,” and try to feed the 5,000. $10.00 a month today is not much for those of us with incomes, to give and then to pass along to the next generation. To paraphrase the Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, money makes it much easier to improve race relations in America.

My County Commissioner Viola Harris suggested last year in a meeting that members of this organization I belong to contribute $10.00 a month so we would not be forever begging for donations , and we could build a cushion for unforeseen expenses . I have been doing that ever since and it does not hurt at all. I would gladly give another $10.00 a month to an organization with community self-help in mind.

After leaving Zion Baptist Church in 1988, The Reverend Dr. Leon H Sullivan spent many years working in Africa against injustices and abject poverty.

The Reverend Dr. Leon Howard Sullivan passed away on April 24th, 2001 at age 78 .

Richard H. Parker Jr.

Tarboro NC 27886-5117