NAACP should be fighting for Black parents, not against them



By Wevlyn Graves

Special to the Outlook


I have a serious problem with the NAACP, and if other Black parents knew what the NAACP was doing, they’d have a serious problem too.

The NAACP is trying to end a scholarship program that is helping 78,000 low-income children, including 23,000 Black children. My 10-year-old son Ezra is one of them.

I am not making this up. In 2014, the NAACP joined the Florida teachers union in filing a lawsuit to kill the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which my son uses to attend a private school in Brooksville. When I found out that the NAACP was part of this, I cursed! And I’m not a curser!

The NAACP stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But in this case, the NAACP is blind to the advancement that the scholarships give Black students. It is giving them options. It is giving them choices. It is helping them be successful.

You’re telling me the NAACP is fighting against the ability of African American parents to have more options and choices to further their children’s education, when African Americans have been fighting for that since the beginning? Are you serious?

None of their arguments hold water. The scholarship is NOT hurting public schools. It is NOT hurting students in public schools. That’s why the first judge who heard the lawsuit dismissed it. Unfortunately, the teachers union and NAACP appealed, and the union president said she will not stop until it goes to the Florida Supreme Court.

As the mother of a young Black male, I live in fear of the school-to-prison pipeline. The possibility that some people may be figuring out how many prison beds they will need in the future by looking at how many Black boys are flunking third grade right now is heartbreaking to me. I assure you, I am going to do everything in my power to keep Ezra from becoming a statistic.

To do that, I need to know my son is safe in school. I need to know he is learning. I need to be able to communicate with his teachers.

I have that now with Ezra’s private school. But I wouldn’t have that without the scholarship.

Right now, I can’t work. Ezra’s sister Arekah is 22 months old. She was born with a heart condition and Down Syndrome. I am able to take care of her while the scholarship and the school help me take care of Ezra. I can’t see any good reason why the NAACP would try to take that away from me.

It’s not just this scholarship that is at risk. Black parents need to know that this lawsuit could hurt other good programs. The same arguments against supporting private schools could be used to end VPK for pre-school or Bright Futures scholarships for college. They could also be used to kill the new Gardiner Scholarships for special-needs children, which I am hoping to get for Arekah.

I wish I could say this madness is going to end soon, but I can’t. We have no choice but to wait for the case to go through the courts. The only good thing about it dragging on is that the more people hear about the lawsuit, the more upset they get.

More than 100 Black ministers from around the state have called on the NAACP to “drop the suit.” More than 10,000 people in Tallahassee heard Martin Luther King III say “drop the suit.” As more and more Black parents hear about it, they are going to say the same thing.