January 20, 2011

Mayor Foxx Issues Statement on NAACP Campaign to Boycott Charlotte

By Scotty Reid

The NAACP has stirred up a hornets nest in Charlotte, North Carolina in its efforts to punish the entire city for the actions of the school board in scheduling a snow make-up day on Dr. Martin Luther King’s national holiday. The inflammatory language used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP president Kojo Nantambu referring to Charlotte as a “racist bastion” has some what divided the Black community in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.


Nantambu

While it can be argued that progress against racism and discrimination is an ongoing battle in Charlotte like much of the nation, it is unfair to characterize the entire city as a “racist bastion”.

Most people in the black community agree that the school board should not have scheduled a snow make up day on the MLK holiday, the only national holiday honoring an African American. Perhaps if the NAACP local chapter had sounded the alarm during the days school was out shortly before MLK day, they could have prevented the school board from making such an unwise and insensitive decision. In a statement released on their website, the NAACP said that this issue was raised at a spring school board meeting in 2010 and the community was against a snow day on MLK day. The NAACP knew of this decision almost a year ago but did not mount a campaign to stop it until the last minute. Now that the deed is done, the NAACP is asking that several events not be held in Charlotte to punish the city.

Mayor Anthony Foxx disagrees with the NAACP and released the following statement:


Foxx

Mayor Foxx’s Statement on Effort to Boycott the City

“I disagree with any effort to boycott the City of Charlotte. Our community has some very tough and unresolved issues regarding public education. Some of them involve the current budget crisis, and some involve longer-standing issues of academic achievement disparities. These challenges are not unique to Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Our capacity to overcome these challenges is what makes our community unique. However, that can happen only when we are able to move past labels and engage each other in meaningful dialogue. I am confident that if we come together and focus on the issues, progress can and will be made.

I further disagree that Charlotte is a racist community, nor do I think our school board or superintendent are racists, as has been alleged in recent months. I agree it was regrettable the King holiday was used as a snow makeup day. At the same time, given the challenges so many of our young people face, I could not agree that students should not attend classes. It also is important to note that the school board next year will not use the King holiday as a makeup day. This is a promising step in the right direction. All of our students deserve the best possible education. At a time when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools face the worst funding shortage in memory, it will take all of us, working as a community, to ensure we are able to deliver the best for our students.

By using labels such as racist to characterize our entire city, all of us are implicated, including me, and such a harsh, irrevocable verdict leaves us nowhere to go as a community. A better path is dialogue that can lead to solutions, such as tonight’s long-planned panel discussion on race relations at the Levine Museum of the New South.

We face serious issues as a community, challenges we are more than capable of meeting but not as a divided city. With tongues too sharp or ears too closed, we can miss opportunities to build bridges and make progress. As a community, now is not the time to turn on each other; it is a time to turn to each other and seek common ground.” – Mayor Anthony Foxx

Many agree with Mayor Foxx’s assessment that a boycott will hurt the entire city at a time when it is still hurting economically. It also stands to reason that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board got the message that a snow make-up day on Martin Luther King’s national holiday is unacceptable to many in the community and this will not occur again next year. The NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch could not be reached for comment on the Mayor’s statement.





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