Evans story not exactly as it happened, letter writer says

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dear Editor:

This letter is written in response to the letter written by Daryl Thomas on the opinion page of The Selma Times-Journal dated Dec. 28.

Also, it is written in response to the attack made by Mr. George Evans concerning Daryl’s letter read on Randy Williams’ one-sided Viewpoint talk show on the same date.

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Let me first apologize to Mr. Evans for Daryl using the statement so loosely when he stated that &8220;when I was a child in the county school system, he told my mother that I should be written off and that I could not learn.&8221;

Mr. Evans stated on the radio that Daryl lied.

Well, I am Daryl’s mother, and I believe I am the one who knows him well enough to elaborate on where he is coming from.

Hopefully, Mr. Evans, the STJ recipients, and the Viewpoint listeners can understand why he feels the way he does.

No, Mr. Evans did not literally tell me that he could not learn, and I don’t believe Daryl meant it literally, but he was made to feel that way through all the hardships of a system that Mr. Evans was a part of.

Daryl is a physically challenged (cerebral palsy) young man due to an injury at birth.

Since his birth, I have traveled from Birmingham, Montgomery, Demopolis, and, yes, here in Selma, taking Daryl for physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to give him as normal of a life as possible.

We give all thanks and praises to God that he was only physically challenged and not mentally as well.

When Daryl was 4 years old, he started pre-school in the head-start program.

In 1977, when he was to start the first grade, I had to start fighting.

I first went to the City School System (Pickard and Randolph era) to inform them of our situation prior to him starting school.

I was told there would be no problem; Daryl could go to regular school.

Well, two weeks after he was in the City School System, I received a letter from the principal on Friday stating that due to the school being over crowded, he could no longer attend that school.

Monday came with no school for us to attend; therefore, I carried my child to the City School Board Office and asked them what they wanted me to do with him.

It was at this point when Mr. Randolph told me that we were not their problem, we were zoned for the County System.

The City System telephoned the County System while we were seated there to find out where we needed to go.

I was told to take him to Brantley even though we were zoned for Valley Grande.

There at Brantley, the principal saw that Daryl was very intelligent, but he was placed in the mentally retarded classroom over my wishes.

Two weeks later, and as I visited on a daily basis, the teacher of that classroom told me that was not the place for Daryl because he was too intelligent to be there and he would not learn anything.

So, I continued to fight until it was decided that he could be mainstreamed (in the regular classroom part of the day and in the special-education classroom the other part).

We kept attending meeting after meeting with the State Advocacy Group, and fighting until we were able to get Daryl placed in the regular class room.

Mr. Evans happened to be the Handicapped Coordinator for the County School System at this time.

We also had meetings with Mr.

Evans to make sure the school system provided all that was necessary for Daryl’s education.

Daryl went on to graduate from Dallas County High School with an Advanced Diploma and in the top ten of his class.

He also went on to graduate from the School of Business and Commerce at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with honors.

The most memorable one being The Daryl Thomas Most Outstanding Achievement Award received in 1992.

This award was given by the Greek organizations on the campus of UA and will be given in his honor for years to come.

The problem that faced Daryl again after he graduated from college was the job market.

Being the very smart young man he is with a very favorable resume, he received many calls for an interview, but no job placement.

Mr. Evans as Superintendent was one of several black men here in Selma I personally made contact with in seeking assistance in the job market.

I even presented him a portfolio on Daryl’s accomplishments.

However, our efforts in these contacts were to no avail.

Now, this is the truth.

The question now is: &8220;Are we still being made to feel that Daryl is incapable to think, speak or write what he feels&8221;; since it was stated on radio that he did not write that letter?

I, as his mother am not condemning or condoning his letter; and you may not agree with it, but he has a right to speak his own convictions.

Since Randy said he had received numerous calls saying this was one of Perkins’ supporters in some political ploy, I’m here to let you and your callers know that Daryl is a very smart, bright, intelligent young man.

He may not speak so clearly, but needs no one to think or write for him.

In our discussion on this, he said &8220;mom, I learned to do two things well if nothing else, and that is to do figures and write&8221;.

Yes, we are Perkins supporters, so what?

I’m sure Mr. Evans has his supporters also.

It has nothing to do with his thoughts on the Selma School System.

He is trying to fight for his child and other children just as I had to fight for him.

I feel great when I can honestly say I hold no animosity in my heart toward no one for the hardships we endured.

We could care less who runs for mayor.

Let the best man or woman win.

Ozetta Thomas