A clarion call rally of support

It is high time for our community to come together for something that is so important to the future of beloved city, Nashville. Nashville beautiful, growing by “leaps and bounds, “so what is the problem with its education system?  And, how can it be rectified?

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend a rally to announce community support for the selection of Dr. Angela Dobbins Huff as Metro Nashville’s Director of Schools. The rally was held at Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, 819  33rd Ave. N.

Rev. Fuzz sent out a clarion call to those who care to make a difference in the lives of young people, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren’s. That call included one to those leaders in the community that felt it wise to speak regarding the situation.

The rally began at 5:00 p.m. with a brief devotion and sermonette lead by the Rev. “Tex” Thomas, who related that a spiritual “word” should be heard before hearing from the community.

Following the devotional, Rev. Fuzz gave a dynamic account of why the rally was called, stating that he had gotten so many messages from the community that something needed to be done about Dr. Huff as it relates to her being hired as Metro Public Schools director.  Many of them had been at the forum when she was given an opportunity to speak and to answer pertinent questions from the community regarding her ability to lead Metro schools.  He said, “I do not know her, but from all indications, she was and is qualified to be an asset in the position.”  Fuzz said he decided that he had to help in some way because of the outcry, but the first thing he had to do was to find out if she wants the job.  “I called her and her response was, ‘Most definitely,’ that was all I needed to know,” said Fuzz. Then he said his question was, “How could she have placed in the top four candidates, if she were not qualified?”

At the rally Fuzz gave factual accounts of why hiring should be accomplished, not just for the children’s sake, but also for my/our sake.  He said, “I need those children to know how to read and understand those big words on my prescription bottles.”  
  
I agree, those young people are going to grow up, just like Angela did; and they will be the ones advocating for me in all walks of life.

Rev. Fuzz then introduced the speakers for the hour, they were: TN State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, the Rev. Frank Stevenson of St. Luke Primitive Church; the Rev. J.J. Green of Mt. Lebanon Missionary Church; present Metro Nashville School Board (MNSB) member, Mrs. Tyese Hunter; former member of the MNSB, Atty. Ed Kindall; and another former member of MNSB, Atty. George Thompson. 

Their talks were a delight; there was really no “great” bashing, but factual information as well as a move to hold the metro school board accountable. 

Rep. Gilmore gave an account of Dr. Huff’s qualifications from her early education in Nashville to her present position in Cobb County, Georgia.  She said her credentials speak to her qualifications for the job.  The representative further stated that because Nashville prides itself on being a city of diversity, “…it’s now time to show it,” said Rep. Gilmore.  “Hire this lady, she’s qualified and she’s a smart, who happens to be Black.”

Rev. Stevenson shared that it is time for us to take responsibility.  With the kind of qualifications held by Dr. Huff, “How was it possible that people who look like us did not vote for her?”

“If you work hard and go to school, you can be whatever you want to be,” said Rev. Green, who shared his accomplishments in education. He said as a black man that has not been his reality. “It’s time to make some right decisions,” he said, “if you continue to do wrong, things always turn out wrong. If you do right, things always turn out right.” He said the right thing to do is to hire a person that you know is qualified, and right things will happen. 

School board member, Hunter said, the final two candidate were Dr. Huff and Dr. Mike Looney, who the board voted for, nine to one.  She said there was never a vote taken for Dr. Huff.  

Hunter, the one no vote, said she was surprised at the outcome because  it appeared that  the majority of  board members were really elated with Dr. Huff.   She said, “Dr. Huff had presented herself well in the interview, she placed the plan on the table near her. She was familiar with the long range plans, cared about it’s implementation; and cared about the children and how they may be impacted, all the children,” said Hunter.  “Most of all she was compassionate.”

Atty. Kindall gave a description of his experiences with search committees when trying to locate superintendents for Metro Schools.  “I don’t know when the procedure changed, it has always been the next person in line.”  Kindall served on the school board more than twenty years.

The final speaker was Atty. Thomas, who also shared his experiences with locating a superintendent. 

The one hour long program ended with distribution of petitions that will be delivered to the school board meeting on August 11, 2015, their regular meeting.
The petition which shows a summary and background is titled Petition to School Board by citizens for Dr. Huff; the action petitioned for; a place to print your name; a signature; address, an e-mail (phone number, if you do not have an e-mail).

There should have been a packed house at the rally, but for some reason we have stop responding to clarion calls, even if each of us there could have only brought one, I’m just saying.  It is time out for waiting to see what is going to happen, we are going to have to go and see what is happening.  We are going to have to support the organizations that were developed to push issues forward, but not wait on them to talk, to bring people in for scolding, but to find out how to join in the effort.

Rev. Fuzz said in his opening that “they” call him crazy, because he will say things that others refuse to say because of the backlash.  I am sure that he is right, because people will call you, get you out there and they will leave you to blend in with the crowd.  Remember, Jesus — remember Peter!  It is not about our color, it is not about our church affiliation or non-affiliation, it’s not about our heritage, it is not about our fears– it is about our awaking and our choices.  It is about standing for something.  It is about the cripple, sick, and lame that pushed their way through the crowds to get to Jesus; and it is about opening the roof up and letting the a lame friend down when there was no other way to get to Jesus.

Why do I want to see her get that job– because she has had all of the training and experience to do it; and because she wants it.  She has been lifted up, trained for such a time as this– she wants that job, how courageous is she.  I do not have her skills, or the training, or the inclination for that job, do you?  But, I believe that she can truly fulfill that mission, because I heard her at the public, her desire to be superintendent for the children, making sure that the adults, who are hired are there for the children. That the people that she has collaborative relationships with, they will know it about the children. 

This is not only about Dr. Huff, it is about us, and how we are going to have to put those people who are skilled in places they need to be, especially when it affects us, in the long run.  Then when it is evident, we are going to have to trust them to do their job.  And, if that does not happen, we are going to have to fire them, but only if they are not doing their job.  Now the proof of them doing their job is not in talking about them not doing their job, but the actual outcome.

Geraldine D. Heath is the Former Managing Editor of the Nashville PRIDE.
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