This afternoon we pastors, educators, students, and social workers gather to express our concern about a lack of funding for public education in Texas. The voices and paths represented here are varied but our conclusions are the same…public education is at the forefront of issues of social justice. The local public school system remains one of the great forces in our society able to awaken the social conscientious of students and create a better world. I know because I experienced it.
Twenty-four years ago, I started first grade in Morrow, Georgia at Lake Harbin Elementary. On the first day, I was placed in Ms. Bellington’s class. I walked in and sat down on a carpet with a bunch of other kids. I repeated the same routine for about two more weeks until one day I was called to the door and told that I was going to be switching teachers. I cried and then was led to meet Ms. Ellington, the first black teacher in the history of the school. This move was not without controversy, as my grandparents were very disturbed at the idea of me having a black teacher and offered to pay for me to go to private school. Resisting, my parents had the courage to keep me in the public school. During that time, I learned about the dream of equality of Martin Luther King, Jr., developed a deep passion for social justice, and experienced what it meant to exist in a diverse community. These lessons affect me to this day.
If not for public schools, I would not be the pastor or activist standing here today.
Knowing my experience, I cannot and will not be silent as a lack of public funding continues to decimate public schools. I join with faith leaders of goodwill and conscientious concern all over the state who are organizing to right one of the greatest social wrongs of our time…a failure to fund public education at an adequate level. I stand together with you for justice for all of God’s children…because that is what Ms. Ellington taught me to do.