Jacqueline Brooks is superintendent of the Macon County school system. Below is a letter from her that relates to her background as an African-American and her family’s struggles for the right to vote. This is a powerful statement.
“Dear Citizens, Friends, Family, and Colleagues,
I write this letter as the great, great-granddaughter of Peter Austin, a slave on a Georgia plantation, who ran away to fight with the Union army for me to be free and to live in a democracy. I write this letter to you as the great-granddaughter of Willie Moore, who thought he had the right to vote but was denied many times because of polling taxes and polling exams. I write this letter to you as the granddaughter of Willie Lee Moore Austin who was born in 1920, the same year the women’s suffrage movement peaked; the grandmother who took me with her when she went behind the curtain to vote; the grandmother who never missed a primary, special or general election no matter the weather or the cost of her fare.
I write this letter as one who will fight to the death for the right to vote, quite frankly because it is what democracy stands for; it is what was instilled in me, and it is my right.
With that, I exclaim loudly and proudly NO to Amendment One.
As a superintendent, parent of two public school children, and a citizen, I can confidently say that the concerns about educational improvement in Alabama are near and dear to all of us. They were of concern in the ’60s with separate but equal; they were of concern in the ’70s with white flight; they were of concern in the ’80s with the crack epidemic; they were of concern in the ’90s with the whole language approach, and they are of concern now, but I assure you that taking away the right to vote is not the way to address school concerns.
As stated by Superintendent Howard Clark, Amendment One proclaims it will repeal “Common Core” because the NAEP scores for Alabama are the lowest in the nation. They are not the lowest in the Nation but have been in the bottom quartile since the existence of NAEP, but more importantly, Alabama’s NAEP scores are commiserate with Alabama’s per pupil spending on education. Let’s address the real issue!
Amendment One is designed to remove our right to vote for the person who represents us on the state board of education and to allow the political appointment of a commissioner of education who may not even be an educator. With my ancestors’ fight for the right to vote undergirding me and my proclivity for democracy guiding me, I cannot support an amendment that takes away voting rights in any form or fashion. I agree that we need improvement in Alabama’s education. We can start with a change to the 1901 Alabama Constitution that still states: separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race.
I urge you to vote No to Amendment One on March 3, 2020.
Dr. Jacqueline Brooks
Macon County Schools Superintendent, Mother, Citizen”