By Admiria Cooper
Special to Frost Illustrated
Recent visits from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew Dr. Derek King have many Fort Wayne residents thinking about justice and racial equality in Fort Wayne area schools. However, reported NAACP visits to Fort Wayne area private schools have many residents wondering if our schools, after 50 years, are really equal.
I spoke with the Rev. Dr. Bledsoe the Fort Wayne Chapter NAACP’s president recently about these visits.
The Rev. Dr. Bledsoe stated that what prompted the NAACP to visit the schools was “the voice of the children.” She told me that the NAACP has visited “several schools” but she did not tell me the names of the schools. She said the meetings allowed her to listen to what the youth had to say and that she is “pleased and proud.” She also stated that the ultimate goal of their visits is to “provide solutions for our youth at all levels” and that Fort Wayne needs to “recognize the ability of civil rights and embrace it.”
Unfortunately, she did not give me the direct goal of the visits and didn’t give me much more information. I also attempted to talk to a principal of a Fort Wayne private school who informed me that he was not at liberty to speak about the matter. Luckily, I myself attend a Fort Wayne private high school and have attended a few of these meetings and have a little more information to give.
The meetings consisted of a few members of the NAACP, some of my school’s faculty and every single black kid in my school. Although some African American students stated that they had not experience any racial discrimination, a large majority said they had. Many were even angry and the meeting turned into us telling NAACP members and faculty about our feelings. We left the meeting with promises of more meetings soon that would include black kids from other private schools as well. Unfortunately we haven’t had a meeting since that meeting and I myself am not sure what the NAACP plans on doing.
One of the students from my high school stated, “Once [the NAACP] came and had the meeting it seems like a lot less racist comments were made.” However, she said she doesn’t know if that change happened because of the meetings or because the students were “scared” of getting in trouble.”
I myself am not sure if these meetings have had any effect on my school. This is my last year attending that school so I unfortunately will not be able to see the future meetings or the effect they may potentially have. Hopefully something will be done soon to help ensure that African American students and all students feel comfortable going to school.
Admiria Cooper is a graduating senior at Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, who served as a student intern at Frost Illustrated this past month as part of the Canterbury Senior Internship Program. Cooper is scheduled to attend Howard University—one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges/Universities—in the fall, majoring in communications.
This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2013 print edition.