Residents rally over lack of black employees

Published 7:24 am Sunday, October 21, 2007

By Staff
Religious, civil-rights leaders urge parents to voice concerns
Residents concerned about the lack of black role models in the Beaufort County School System gathered Saturday morning in front of the Beaufort County Courthouse in Washington.
Area religious and civil-rights leaders addressed the crowd, encouraging them to fight for change by attending the school board meeting Monday night and voicing their concerns.
The Rev. Edward Moultra, pastor of the Beebe Memorial CME Church in Washington, said the rally was organized not by choice, but out of necessity.
The Rev. Russell Wilkins, pastor of the St. John Church of Christ in Washington, said “We’re not asking for special favors, but are demanding our rights as citizens of this country.”
Of the 498 teachers working in the county’s schools, 39 are black. Of the 14 principals in the school system, one is black. Victoria Mallison is the principal of the Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, an alternative school.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners passed a symbolic resolution at its October meeting, urging the board to seek qualified black employees. Commissioner Jerry Langley said at least two certified teachers who applied to the school system last year were not granted interviews and were subsequently hired by neighboring school systems.
Wilkins is a member of the Minority Advisory Council, which reports to Jeff Moss, the Beaufort County Schools superintendent. “We met with him every other month with no results. I believe he did not share our concerns to the school board,” he said in an interview with the Daily News.
The school board was informed by the committee in September. “It’s been a month and we’ve heard nothing, so we will return to receive their findings,” he said.
Archie Harding, another member of the minority committee, attended the rally Saturday wearing a shirt that read “No Moss.” The committee was formed over two years ago and “things have gotten worse,” he said in an interview with the Daily News.
Bishop James McIntyre, pastor of Cornerstone Family Community Center in Washington, spoke during the rally , both as a black religious leader and as a parent.
William O’Pharrow, president of the Beaufort County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked attendants to voice their concerns. “Let’s continue to fight for harmony, diversity in our community.”
Joe Boston, president of the Beaufort County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. said the consequences of unfair hiring would be “detrimental to the black youth.”
Ann Cherry, a retired school teacher from John Small Elementary School, attended the rally to show her concern on the issue. “Diversity benefits everyone. We need a racially diverse facility. That’s why we send our children to public school,” she said.