MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis has an African-American population of more than 70 percent. Shelby County has a minority population of more than 51 percent. There are Blacks here, there are Whites here…who cares?
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy says he thinks a lot of you folks who want your own suburban schools care. “Look,” he says, “I’m not saying that every single supporter of a municipal school system is a racist. Of course I’m not. But I think it would be naïve to deny undercurrents of race and class in this debate. And that is enough to make it unconstitutional.”
In a politically correct world, people don’t talk about race. There is nothing politically correct in the Memphis and Shelby County school fights.
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald says the issue isn’t race. It is just about where people live. “Unless they’re going to reinstate busing,” he said, “the schools that are predominantly white or predominantly black will stay that way until neighborhoods change.”
Steve Mulroy says it makes no difference why the municipalities want their own systems. If those systems result in Shelby County having separate and unequal educational opportunities for its children, then he’s got a problem. “We are basically trying to re-segregate a unified, integrated school system,” he said. “I think the Federal Court needs to take a look at those issues.”
Mayor McDonald has talked with other suburban mayors and they will respond to the county lawsuit. He already has a lot to say about the charges of racism. “It is really hurtful that the attorneys felt like they had to use that language and go there with that,” McDonald said.
Meanwhile both sides hope that U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mayes will hear this case as soon as possible. The municipal school elections are scheduled for August 2.