After responding to a couple of days of outrage to this letter printed in last week’s Challenger, I thought it would be important to respond, not because there was anything factual to rebut, but to take this opportunity as a teaching moment about what the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is and what it is not.
The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is a member branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Its roots and rich history are grounded in the fact that many men, women, boys and girls, blacks and whites fought and/or lost their lives so that black people may enjoy the freedoms that this country promised for all its citizens. With the exception of the national headquarters and some staff positioned throughout the country, NAACP members are volunteers.
I have the distinct honor and privilege to serve with many of those volunteers who have decided to either move from in front of the television, turned off the video games or who have stopped arguing on Facebook about problems and have decided to sacrifice their personal time to address the inequities that exist here in St. Petersburg.
Just like the original Freedom Fighters, our members are diverse and are African American, Caucasian, Latino, Asian, gay, straight, unemployed, underemployed, preachers, teachers, retirees, senior citizens, millennials, etc.
This group of people has decided to work toward the mission of the NAACP, which “is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic process.”
The St. Petersburg NAACP has led the way through the following actions by not only addressing the issues at Campbell Park but also within all Pinellas Schools:
• Since 1970 the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and local attorneys have been on the battlefield holding the Pinellas County School Board accountable to educating black children
• In 2016, the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP did a six-month review, interviewed parents, attended meetings, analyzed data and issued the District a 21-page analysis of the Pinellas County School system’s Scale Up for Success Plan with specific recommendations
• Held two successful parent forums for the purpose of hearing specifically from parents not only at Campbell Park but from all of our schools
• Has personally appeared at parent meetings, met with school board officials and advocated on behalf of students in Pinellas County Schools
• Held a successful school board candidate forum at Campbell Park in an effort to first educate parents that making changes in policy starts with ensuring you have the right people on the school board, and secondly giving parents from Campbell Park and our other schools an opportunity to meet these candidates to share their concerns
• Held a successful candidate forum at St. Petersburg College, again in an attempt to give parents from Campbell Park and other schools within our community an opportunity to meet school board candidates personally and share their concerns
I further offer to Anonymous, if you are indeed a parent of three children at Campbell Park, one of the best lessons that you could teach your children is fact gathering. Not one of the comments you have made about me as the St. Pete NAACP president or the organization itself is remotely accurate.
Furthermore, if you are a parent of three children, join the NAACP and teach us something. If once a member and you do not agree with the strategies that we have deployed to fight the mis-education of black students, we are open for you to show us what you know.
However, what we are not amenable to is a sidebar from those who aren’t members of the NAACP!
Maria L. Scruggs, President, St. Petersburg Branch NAACP