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Blacks Should Move On Beyond Postelwait
8/12/2015 2:02:32 PM

By Barney Blakeney

So much has been going on lately, I slept the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I always get the civil rights and voting rights acts dates mixed anyway. One is 1965 the other 1964. I keep them memorized using alphabetical order - ‘C’ before ‘V’. But I’m out to lunch when it comes to remembering the anniversaries and observances.

My editor would make assignments for stuff like that. It kept me abreast. Jim’s backing off stuff like that. After 50 years in the business, I guess I don’t blame him. It means I have to go to my ‘A’ game and focus.

Anyway, I slept the Voting Rights Act anniversary. I was focused on the ongoing Charleston County school superintendent controversy. I talked with a few people last week who say that ship has sailed and that the only people who still see some controversy are those gripping about Gerrita Postelwait’s appointment to the position.

One guy said folks dissatisfied with Postelwait’s appointment would do better meeting with her to hammer out an agenda for their constituencies. Another guy lamented the apparent powerlessness of those who opposed the selection process and subsequent appointment. So as other newsmen were thinking about the Voting Rights Act, I was thinking about this column.

Like most right-thinking people in our community, I too am insulted by the charade that was the search and selection process that resulted in Postelwait’s appointment. It wouldn’t be so bad if there had not been so many voices opposing the dynamics that played out during the selection process.

Innuendos about possible collusion between the contracted search team and the administration, board members having prior meetings with Postelwait and the racial allegations that flipped CCSD Chief Academic Officer Lisa Herring the proverbial ‘bird’ all pointed to an outcome other than Postelwait’s appointment.

I was sittin’ and sippin’ in my partner’s back yard the other day when he said CCSD school board literally flipped a lot of Black folks the bird with that appointment - most especially those who argued that Herring, who is Black, should have gotten the job. Well, one thing we all should know - Herring’s outa here. She’s already been looking for another job.

I was especially intrigued by my partner’s perspective. He said Black folks should consider the school board’s appointment an emphatic statement about the power and influence Black folks have in matters where white folks make decisions. That appointment was beyond arrogance, it was smack dab, in your face “We don’t give a good darn what ya’ll Black folks say, us white folks are gonna do what we want and there ain’t a dang thing ya’ll can do about it”.

Now I don’t like it when somebody treats me that-a-way. It truly makes me feel powerless. But all the grippin’ an moanin’ in the world ain’t gon make them folks change their minds, so we may as well see what we can get out of the deal, I figure.

I’m thinking it’s maybe time us Black injuns go sit down with the great white chief and have us a pow wow. And yes, it is about moving on. I understand where folks are coming from who say we can’t simply accept this most recent action of the county’s historically racially discriminating school board which forever has disenfranchised Black students. But grippin’ about the appointment ain’t gon get nothing done.

Negotiating with the appointed superintendent may. We need to be at the table. Every other constituency is meeting with Postelwait, putting their names in the hat. We should do likewise.

Beyond that we’d also do well to remember the Voting Rights Act. A lot of folks say Blacks have squandered our access to the polls. Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act we’re still begging white folks to treat us fairly.

That’s because we have leadership that for some reason is convinced talking loud to those who don’t listen is more powerful than identifying, training and electing decision-makers who will be fair.

Those folks have humiliated our community shamelessly and still we haven’t set an agenda to deal with them. Thousands of Black folks converged on Charleston last week as part of the African American Methodist Church conferences. How much discussion was held about the injustices and unfair treatment of Black people that led to those nine murders at Emanuel AME Church June 17?

Church business is important, but aren’t the lives of all the AMEs who attend Charleston County schools church business? I think we probably should move on in Charleston County School District, right on to the 2016 elections.

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