Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dismantling Public Schools by Privatizing Education: Jailing Black Mothers Who Seek Better Future for Their Children

Kelley Williams-Bolar is shown in a "perp" walk as she is escorted to a hearing for allegedly falsifying paperwork to have her child go to school in a better part of Akron, Ohio.

Black women can't win for shit in the United States. Not if they are being progressive, educated, or good mothers who are concerned about the quality of their children's education.

In the past months we have seen three cases in which black women have been jailed for fighting for a better education for their children.

In Detroit, twelve expecting teen mothers were arrested for peacefully protesting to keep their school, Catherine Ferguson, open and running so they could continue to maintain an inner city farm. This is very important since Detroit doesn't have a major grocery store in the city and residents have taken to using community farming.

Then you have Kelly Williams-Bolar from Akron, OH and Tonya McDowell of Norwalk, CT, facing jail time for enrolling their children in districts they don't live. Williams-Bolar thought she went through the proper channels by using her father's address and McDowell used her babysitter's address, but are being charged with felonies of falsifying information.

Okay, so here I am confused again. First, black women are berated for being bad mothers and welfare mothers. Now they are being criminalized for being good mothers?

The attack on black mothers who seek better education is the attempt to remove a continuum women who educate their communities by any means necessary. There are documents of slave women who would teach other slaves at midnight schools in the swamps and woods during slavery, and impart all that they knew to others in the community to uplift.

Even the women of the Black Club's Women's Movement in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century who took on the duty of educating and providing basic social services to severely neglected black communities under the banner, "Lifting As We Climb".

Much of the schools throughout the south and urban black communities of the North were kept alive through the tireless efforts of black women. Feeding children, cleaning the schools, making sure everyone had clothes or some type of school supplies. It was the women who fought for access, a far cry from black men, who often used education as a source to gain status and entry into socially and politically exclusive areanas.

Osceola McCarthy
My father is from Mississippi, and he vividly remembers how the mothers of the students would cook hot meals for children in the morning and after school to make sure they had dinner that night. That was the original breakfast program, waaaaaaayyyyyy before the Black Panther Party.

The history of black women involved in education as been one of selflessness. Even when a black woman could not eat or go to school, she made sure the children of the community were well-fed.

People such as Mary McCleod Bethune who sold pies to open a vocation school for girls that turned into Bethune Cookman College. Or Oseola McCarty, who had to drop out of school in the sixth grade in order to be a laundress, donating her life savings of $150,000 to University of Southern Mississippi to set up a fund for poor students.

And it is known fact in general American history that once women were taught how to read, the society as a whole moved forward. This is why the jailing of black mothers who seek better education is imperative for dismantling public education. Black women have been tireless advocates for access to education, and to criminalize their efforts is sending a message to dissuade others.

When one has the ability to fight for not only free education, but the quality of education, then they become an involved citizen in shaping a society. And if a black woman is putting in her 2 cents, she is flipping that bitch to be $20, best believe.

This is the second in a indefinite series exploring education in America by Eco.Soul.Intellectual

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