Last October, a lawsuit was filed against the Waterbury Arts Magnet School in Connecticut along with Italian language teacher Ralph Belvedere. Students of color had protested the Pledge of Allegiance because of “their belief that African-Americans suffer from racial discrimination in the United States.” Belvedere’s response, according to the lawsuit, was to mock and shame the kids. He allegedly also brought in another teacher to lecture the kids on patriotism.
The lawsuit was settled out of court last month, and you would think everyone’s ready to put this problem behind them.
But Board of Education member Thomas Van Stone decided he wasn’t done complaining yet. Days after the settlement, he delivered his own ignorant remarks at a board meeting, suggesting the students were unpatriotic for not standing for “two minutes” and claiming that students should come to school on holidays — specifically Veterans Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Day — in order to be educated about why this country is great.
As if the colored kids who protest the Pledge are too dumb to understand the greatness of America like a white school board member.
It wasn’t just tone-deaf; it was wildly ignorant and condescending. It was also ironic, given that Stone is apparently a member of the local chapter of the NAACP.
While in your presence at the BOE meeting of Feb. 21, 2019 I find your comments in response to the settlement of the Pledge of Allegiance racist and retaliatory toward Black students and others of like minds unforgivable during a regular board meeting.
We find you no longer fit to serve in this important role in the education of our Black Children and therefore request your immediate resignation from both roles with the NAACP and the BOE.
Stone hasn’t resigned. But the civil rights group said the board president responded to their statement, saying that they respected the First Amendment and that students didn’t have to stand for the Pledge. It’s implied that students wouldn’t have to come to school on holidays no matter what Stone said.
Still, his contempt is appalling and deserves to be addressed before another incident occurs.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)