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We Have to BE Better

We knew we had to be better; and that didn’t even always make us equal.” Sophia Nelson

Too Black, Too Smart?

In Pittsburgh, PA seventy-five years ago, a young lady worked hard. Turned in assignments, mastered subjects and proved that she was THE best in her class. Fanetta Nelson Gordon was set to be the 2nd Black valedictorian, following in her sister’s footsteps who had been the first two years earlier. [Story link] The principal thought that would be two too many and ordered a teacher to change Fanetta’s grade to a B, moving her ranking to 4th.

I can only imagine how painful it must have been to witness such cowardice and hatred by someone charged with the care and education of a school. What’s most telling – and challenging – to us today is the pride in accomplishment that the family held. She didn’t stop or say, “See the world is cruel.” Fanetta went on to earn two masters degrees and teach others. Unfortunately, today, those in the educator positions are changing grades in the opposite direction.

USA Today launched an investigation into allegations of test tampering and other cheating incidents in DC public schools. The driving factor behind the cases were dollars and good press. If true, those who pay the ultimate price of being ill-prepared for their future are the students.

Changing a grade to keep a talented Fanetta Nelson Gordon from her rightful place as 1st in class or to pass along a group of unready students does the same thing in both cases – it hides the truth. But even if it’s 75 years later as the video shows, the truth finds its way out.

WATCH the STORY: Fanetta Nelson Gordon named Valedictorian 75 Years Later

USA Today Story: Standardized Test Tampering Allegations in DC Schools

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One comment on “We Have to BE Better

  1. Naesh
    04/17/2011

    This is still happening. I saw a documentary last week called “Prom Night in Mississippi” where a black student allegedly wasn’t allowed to become valedictorian although she had the grades. The documentary is about segregated proms but has one part about the valedictorian. Morgan Freeman brought light to the racism that still exists in the South. This documentary was from a few years ago, but that’s terrible that such hatred and racism still occurs, after all that minorities have fought to make equal in this country.

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This entry was posted on 04/16/2011 by in Cup of Coffee.
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