Tangipahoa Parish Schools continue to seek unitary status despite continued segregation
HAMMOND—When Tangipahoa Parish School Board released a statement on September 26, 2019, it sent shock waves throughout the African-American community.
The board released the following statement: “On Thursday afternoon, September 26, 2019, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board made history, adopting the recommendation of attorneys in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation case and authorizing a jointly filed consent agreement in the 54-year-old case.”
This statement prompted Nelson Taylor, the lead attorney in the case, to call a community meeting to inform the community about the case Oct. 30, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Hammond.
Nelson said, “This case is coming to an end, I don’t know how the judge is going to rule in this case. This case has slew of court orders.”
Attorney Gideon Tillman Carter III wrote the final agreement for the school board. “This agreement will dismiss all litigations,” Taylor said.
“Carter is not the lead attorney, he has no authority to write anything. Carter has disrupted my team.”
The 34-page “Final Agreement” outlines the scope of the work that the district will continue in good faith in order to maintain a unitary school system. A school district is unitary when it has eliminated the effects of past segregation.
Once the board achieved unitary status, they are not obligated to do anything. “It’s business as usual”, said Taylor, “The board doesn’t need unitary status to remove all those portable buildings they can do that now.
The powers-that-be has their hands on this school board. One white board member had the nerve to go on television and say they will not vote for a tax for the board if the board is under court order to do things for Blacks”. Tangipahoa Parish has the lowest tax for schools than any other parish in the state.
“If you want good schools, you must have a good tax base. There is something the African American community can do. Have a community meeting, discuss and plan what you want in your schools and where those schools should be located,” said Taylor, “The African American community did not create a dual system of education in this parish.” The board should build high schools in central locations like Ponchatoula and Hammond High with the same curriculum. The board is building schools around subdivisions.
“The parish has two African American board members, they should have three and maybe four. You should check the parish demographics.”
Former president of The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP Pat Morris said, “No one wants this case settled more than I do. But it must be done the right way, according to Amendment 14. Equality for everyone. This case is about African American children and their parents.” Taylor asked for the African American community to show up in Federal Court in record numbers on November 20, 2019.ℜ
By Eddie Ponds
Ther Drum Founding Publisher