Favorite

Roy Brooks is our Don Imus 

click to enlarge RACIAL DIVIDE: Brooks alienated black parents and School Board members.
  • RACIAL DIVIDE: Brooks alienated black parents and School Board members.

In the summer of 2004, an outraged Bill Cosby gave a bristling speech on the state of Black America. He reprimanded black folks for crime, poor academic performance and irresponsible sexual activity. At one point during this event marking the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board, he exclaimed, “What the hell good is Brown v. Board if no one wants it?”

As history would have it, around the time of Cosby's speech, Roy Brooks became the new superintendent of the Little Rock School District. Shortly thereafter, Brooks declared that his objective was to make the district the best performing urban school system in the nation. I was intrigued. I had never heard a superintendent make such a strong declaration. I also knew that this would be a daunting task, because few urban districts can tell success stories of closing the achievement gap between white and black students.

Not long after Brooks' tenure began, so did the grumblings — not from the white patrons whose kids represent about 30 percent of the students in the district, but from the black majority. As the months passed, opposition to Brooks grew. As a result of the fall 2006 School Board elections, the composition of the board fundamentally changed with the board's majority finally mirroring the district's student majority.

This change was the beginning of the end for Brooks. His offense can succinctly be described as not engaging the majority of his constituency. The effort to oust the superintendent frustrated and angered white citizens who backed him and, because many whites had no meaningful interactions with black people, the move seemed illogical.

Joel Klein would understand. The chancellor of the New York City schools recently spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. I was curious and skeptical as I listened, knowing that only 25 percent of black males graduate on time from the New York public schools. But Klein said something that made me realize he knew what he had to do with his overwhelming black constituency.

“I became a black Baptist preacher,” Klein said.

What he meant was that he went to black churches and events and on black radio shows to get his message out about what he wanted to do to improve the schools, and how he needed the help of the people to get this done. My wife looked at me but said nothing; she and I were thinking the same thing. For us, it was a shame that a Jewish brother knew what to do, but Brother Brooks, a great guy nonetheless, did not.

This is why Brooks was removed by the School Board. Being an urban school superintendent means being a politician. You must attend the major events of your constituents. Yet he, from my knowledge, never traveled to the various black churches to give his great message. He was not seen at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. programs or any of the black fraternity and sorority events. He never was a guest on the “Broadway Joe Talk Show” on radio station KOKY. In fact, Broadway Joe indicated on the air that he had invited Brooks on two occasions without success.

One night, while I was watching one of those Fox News shows (probably that ridiculous Sean Hannity) in the aftermath of Don Imus' racist remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team and his subsequent firing from his nationally syndicated radio program, my wife looked at me and said, “Roy Brooks is our Don Imus.”

The “I-Mess” aftermath caused people to look within the black community and say, “If those words aren't appropriate for Imus, we need to stop it as well.” Slowly, civil rights leaders came forward to begin challenging the use of those words in our community. (Imus had called the women basketball players “nappy-headed ho's.”)

Favorite

Speaking of Roy Brooks

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • A new day for child welfare?

    After strategizing for months, DHS officials have a plan to address Arkansas's foster care crisis.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Jeff Nichols, 'Loving' and the space in between

    The Little Rock native turns to an unheralded chapter of the civil rights era with his new film.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • Isn't Asa Hutchinson up for re-election 2018?????? Maybe Donald will offer Asa a job in…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Lessons from Standing Rock

    • How I Was Rescued From Debt And a collapsing Business By Edward Jones.. {jonesloanfinance@yahoo.com}.. Good…

    • on December 3, 2016
  • Re: Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    • Thank you, Ruth! Thank you.

    • on December 2, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation