Kojo Nantambu and the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP need to get a political agenda.
Yes, the current head of the local NAACP has chosen to pretend that CMS using MLK Day as a snow day is such an affront that he and his organization called for a boycott of a city that is a "racist bastion." That's a harsh description, to put it mildly, and I discuss issues of race for a living.
While Charlotte faces the same tough challenges that many cities face when it comes to issues involving race, I would never call the city a "racist bastion." In fact, it is a city in transition that is moving largely in the right direction. While I do not agree with some of the things that happen here, I also do not agree with using MLK Day as a springboard for political activity that goes far and beyond what the alleged transgression warrants.
First and foremost, while it is disappointing to hold school on MLK Day, which is a hard-fought national holiday, it is equally as disappointing to witness the leader of our city's chapter of a legendary civil rights organization use it as an opportunity for self-promotion and to thrust the group into the local and national spotlight. With all of the things actually going on in Charlotte that need attention, why use such a trivial matter like making up a school day as the jumping off point?
I'm not saying that MLK Day is trivial. I am saying that there is always a possibility that a national holiday will be used as a snow day, when schools have been closed for inclement weather. Seriously, how many times have schools been open on President's Day for that very reason? No one calls for a boycott of the city — it just is what it is, especially when it comes to the education of children.
I thought it was common knowledge that school funding is tied not only to the number of students the school system has, but also to the number of days students actually attend. The choice is to either make up the snow days on a weekend or holiday or have a longer school year. Most school systems like CMS typically plot out possible snow days an academic year in advance, in order to help students, parents and teachers stay on course. Why? It is called having an agenda, something that Nantambu and Charlotte's NAACP needs to mimic. Just to be clear, having an agenda is more than screaming racism or calling someone a racist.
So, CMS held school on MLK Day — as a result we should boycott every major event that comes to Charlotte, including the CIAA tournament, which pumps millions into the local economy over a weekend? The tournament boosts many local businesses, including those of black entrepreneurs. CIAA provides an opportunity to publicly demonstrate the long and illustrious history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, not to mention the numerous civic and fundraising activities for scholarships to support students.
I'm not dissing the NAACP as a whole because I fully support the organization and have enjoyed working closely with them in years past as the former president of the Urban League of Central Carolinas Young Professionals Auxiliary. Working with former leader (and current first vice president) Dwayne Collins was a pleasure because he had an agenda and embodied a spirit that was accessible and encouraging.
But with all of the things that Nantambu could address — like pushing black folks out of historic neighborhoods (aka gentrification), CMS eliminating its volunteer diversity committee, the closing of public libraries, local businesses discriminating against consumers of color, and the continued funding and building of major attractions for tourists, while cutting funding for the needs and services of people who actually live here — he chooses this?
I won't mention the need to register more voters, of which the NAACP (including the local chapter) has a long history, so that people will vote and actually affect change. Screaming racism with no clear political or legislative agenda does not cut it. By the way, Charlotte currently has a black mayor and police chief, among other African-American officials, all of whom are doing a fantastic job of making this city a great place to live.
Besides, Dr. King would want us to go to school anyway.