Ed­u­ca­tional en­deav­ors should start by learn­ing our his­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SUNDAY SELECT -

Ev­ery Tren­ton school year should be­gin with two top­ics.

Ev­ery woman, man and child should know the United States his­tory re­gard­ing slav­ery, not as a guilt weapon or ex­cuse but for un­der­stand­ing cur­rent op­por­tu­nity, de­spite per­ceived and real daily chal­lenges.

Armed with his­tory about how past black lives mat­tered a lot less than to­day, an un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stance pre­cip­i­tated by peo­ple who claimed re­li­gious ob­jec­tives, we can teach these new faces self worth.

A need to un­der­stand that one key com­po­nent about slav­ery in­volved an edict to as­sure that those in chains never learned to read or write.

Are you get­ting this, Tren­ton? That’s why your li­braries closed, why Gov. Chris Christie re­fused to give you a new high school un­til na­tional news got wind of his bel­liger­ent stance that would have af­fected neg­a­tively his pres­i­den­tial dreams.

In al­most eight years, Christie never vis­ited Tren­ton High to en­er­gize, sup­port and en­cour­age.

Un­for­tu­nate that Tren­ton High closed for de­mo­li­tion be­fore the McDon­ald’s opened on Cham­bers St. Christie might have dropped by the TCHS cam­pus while in pur­suit of a Big Mac.

Christie and Tren­ton Mayor Eric Jack­son should have bonded for an ed­u­ca­tion mes­sage.

The lit­tle boy in­side me jumped for joy in Au­gust when our eyes ob­served all the free books avail­able for those chil­dren at­tend­ing the Back to School Aca­demic Ex­trav­a­ganza at the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Not much me­dia cov­er­age for pos­i­tive ed­u­ca­tional ob­jec­tives as the sys­tem con­tin­ues an at­tack on ur­ban life un­til re­gen­tri­fi­ca­tion oc­curs.

Gre­gory School Prin­ci­pal Michael Rosenberg pulled me aside for an ex­pla­na­tion about a city and news out­lets over­selling bad news.

The best of­fer in town in­volves The Tren­to­nian’s “Good News Fri­day” sec­tion. If you have pos­i­tive events and ac­com­plish­ments then send them here.

A sec­ond manda­tory learn­ing ini­tia­tive in­volves Gla­dys Hedgepeth and Ber­line Wil­liams.

No prob­lem if you pro­duced a blank re­sponse, rea­son enough for this ed­u­ca­tion ef­fort.

Hedgepeth and Wil­liams sued the Tren­ton Board of Ed­u­ca­tion over racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, an ac­tion that pro­vided ground­work for the na­tional ed­u­ca­tion block­buster Brown v. Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

In Septem­ber 1943, Leon Wil­liams and Janet Hedgepeth, res­i­dents of Tren­ton’s Wil­bur sec­tion, at­tempted to en­roll at Ju­nior High No. 2 but were told the school did not ac­cept Ne­gro stu­dents.

Wil­liams and Hedgepeth were in­structed to gain ad­mis­sion into the all black Lin­coln School, about 2.5 miles away.

Gla­dys Hedgepeth and Ber­line Wil­liams could never ac­cept the il­log­i­cal sys­tem and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ren­dered a de­ci­sion on Jan­uary 31, 1944, de­cid­ing that Ju­nior School No. 2 “un­law­fully dis­crim­i­nated” against the stu­dents and were in a di­rect vi­o­la­tion of statute N.J.S.A. 18:14-2.

This statute makes clear “it is un­law­ful for boards of ed­u­ca­tion to ex­clude chil­dren from any pub­lic school on grounds that they are of ne­gro race.”

Not only should Tren­ton schools teach this re­mark­able ed­u­ca­tion tri­umph, Gla­dys Hedgepeth and Ber­line Wil­liams de­serve a day of recog­ni­tion.


Back to School Ex­trav­a­ganza at­tracted hun­dreds of Tren­ton Pub­lic Schools stu­dents and their par­ents at the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion build­ing. At­ten­dees re­ceived book bags, school sup­plies, lunch and in­for­ma­tion to sup­port a pos­i­tive learn­ing year.

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