By Pamela Whitlow
What a Day & a way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in LaFayette Alabama.
LaFayette Teachers against Displacement (L-TAD) hosted a peaceful protest walk for justice for every student on Monday January 16th at 1pm. Equity over Equality!
The teachers, Mayor Vines, city councilmen, preachers, pastors, business owners, citizens, students, former teachers joined the (L-TAD) in front of the courthouse to support the cause.
There were signs that read: All students matter, Equality Inclusion Diversity Equity Never Fails,
(1st Corinthians 13:4-8),1/3 of my school day I will be on a bus, I am more then a number… I deserve better, All roads lead to LaFayette, Consolidation Relocation and so many more!!!
The program opened up with prayer led by LaFayette High School teachers (L-TAD)Mr. Eric Barker and (L-TAD founder ) Tytianna Smith spoke on the racist history of segregation in southern schools.
The walk began at the Chambers County Courthouse escorted by the LaFayette Police Department and Chief Rampey.
The LaFayette Mighty Marching Band brought in beats of the drums as the large crowd chanted: “Build it in LaFayette”, “Equity over Equality,” “No Equity, No Peace,” and “Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day”.
One of the highlights of the day was former teacher Ms. Louise Cox, a 91 year old LaFayette native who is a retired educator that taught at LaFayette High School during integration. She marched in the very front of the protest walk.
Ms. Cox stated she wouldn’t have missed this walk for the world. She loves LaFayette, and LaFayette High School. She walked the entire protest walk that ended at the steps of LaFayette High School.
Mayor Kenneth Vines welcomed everyone. He recognized and celebrated Ms. Cox for being such an awesome teacher during her time at LaFayette High School. Vines also stated how excited he was to see how many kids(students) that came out. He stated” It’s all about the kids.” If we leave the kids out then we have no purpose!”
He added the reason I am here today is because “The new consolidated high school should be built right here in LaFayette because all you have to do is go read what the decree say. The #1 thing is the decree says the school should be built in a centralized location off of Highway 50! Where is the Chambers County Courthouse? right here in a centralized location, right here in the City of LaFayette!”
Vines ended, “I’m fighting for the fairness of the citizens of LaFayette. I’m fighting for the fairness of our kids. I’m fighting for the fairness of our teachers.”
Words of Inspiration – Cardarrien Whitlow(LHS student) Whitlow gave examples of the inconvenience it would cause parents and students if the school is not in a more centralized location due to different time zones dealing with school activities, sports activities and etc.
Band Director Michael Floyd (L-TAD) talked about Dr. MLK and equity – He reminded everyone just like MLK took a stand for what was right. He too will take a stand for his home, friends, community, school, students, and of course for my people I am going to take a stand….Equity over Equality.
Pastor Kelsey Barnes said “What’s the rush to build? We need to build better people. Build First and we will Build Better! Don’t take the kids out their home and put them in someone’s else’s home! It’s about the children, all children, not just LaFayette. But, Valley and all children.”
L-TAD is challenging the Chambers County Board of Education to rethink their decision, which they say continues to place an unjust burden upon all students and parents in addition to the racial toll taken on Black students and families in the LaFayette School District. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”