National Action Network: Tearing Down Barriers

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Education is the key to unlock opportunities. If this is true, then the lack of education padlocks opportunities. The lack of education confines those who seek high paying jobs, admission to Ivy League colleges, first class travel, vacations, etc. Success, most often, can be traced to the quality of education received.

In order to break the cycle of poverty, crime and homelessness, the socio-economic system must change. And the only way this can happen is students must have a starting chance. Although doors of opportunities in the tri-county area are opening, many minority students are still padlocked in substandard schools, jobs and communities.

During a morning drive along I-26 through North Charleston, downtown and on into Mt. Pleasant, nothing but construction projects are taking place. Charleston is flooded with new roads, high rise apartments, restaurants and bars. New growth is inevitable. It’s sort of like the dead carcasses you see on the highway. Either you move rapidly with the flow or get run over. And that’s what’s happening to minority students. Their education has not kept pace with the growth. It never has and I am beginning to wonder whether it ever will.

National Action Network (NAN) along with The Interdenominational Ministers Alliance and other stakeholders have been attending and conducting a series of meetings with Charleston County School District Superintendent, Board members, the Citadel President and staff to improve opportunities for minority students.

Before gentrification in the City of Charleston, The Citadel sat in an almost all Black neighborhood. Black children walking by could only dream of entering the all-white Corp of Cadets. It was only by the grace of God and black guidance counselors that doors began to open—not quite wide enough—but opened.

We will be doing a series of articles and town hall meetings on education and inviting the public and particularly parents to get more involved in their children’s education.

Changes do not happen because you wish upon a star; changes happen when you become the “Star”. We continue to talk about homelessness and crime but what are we really doing about it? Educators have wasted enough monies on studies to know that most negative elements in our communities can be traced back to the educational level of the residents. Do they really want to change the status quo? Of course not!! It’s not just the educational system that has to change but other restraints, such as access to capital/banking, jobs and housing.

The system is designed to allow a certain number of black students to break through the cycle of poverty. Even at that, they must work much harder than their white counterparts. Here’s what educators call “diversity”. Their thinking is we got a little bit of blacks, a little bit of browns, a little bit of yellows and a big bit of whites. So, what’s the problem? “Y’all ain’t never satisfied.” How many times have you heard that? The problem I have is down with a little bit. Black folk know what a little bit is.

We have always had a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It is time to spread the wealth. We know about the hand me downs, the thrift stores, recycled appliances, rat and roach infested apartments, and loan sharks that you never get through paying. We know the heartache of not being able to take our children on vacations. We know about riding around in “tinkers” on “may pop” tires. We know why banks have a problem lending minorities money. We know why minority children are saddled with student loans that impact their credit score limiting access to mortgages, business lines of credits, etc.

NAN is on a mission to break down generational cycle of disparities and exclusions and to provide equitable opportunities for all children. All children deserve the best education possible. To that end, NAN is committed to breaking loose generational padlocks that have limited and prevented minority students from achieving their goals.

Stay tuned, NAN is about to blow the roof of the sucker!!

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