Let’s make sure we really learn from our history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2002

If history is such a big part of Selma, and if it still controls many of the things we do today, so be it. But if we plan to keep history a living part of our community, the least we can do is learn from it.

The entire argument over a publication being distributed in the Selma City and Dallas County schools is whether or not kindergarten children are old enough to read the atrocious stories of slavery.

That publication, printed by The Greene County Democrat, was delivered to 10,000 students and grabbed the wary attention of some parents.

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Never in the arguments over this publication has there been mention that the horrific acts of slavery are untrue. In fact, the words and pictures in the tabloid are true – painfully true.

While educators and community leaders use this censure problem to learn for the future, let’s go back to the past for a moment. Let’s learn something from our history that didn’t happen 100 years ago, or even 40 years ago.

In the late 1980s, the Selma City School System thrived. Athletic teams were dominant, school hallways were filled with integrated populations and education was second-to-none.

Today, those hallways are one color – plain and simple. For a town that taught the rest of the world how to fight through oppression and become united one way or the other, isn’t it amazing that our city school system can’t seem to fit the same mold?

If we’re to learn from the future, let’s learn that we can’t allow a petty argument like this one over a publication lead to anything more than civil discussions.

Both Wayne May, superintendent of the Dallas County School System, and Rose Sanders, a Selma attorney who asked May to retract an apology, have demonstrated maturity and class in the way they’ve handled this situation.

As a community, we should encourage people to voice their opinions. And when we finish talking, we should sit down, hammer out solutions and live by them.

That would be one way to learn from history.