Last week it was the unfathomable news of the intended murders of 50 Gay men and women, mostly of color and mostly Latino, in an Orlando dance club.
One year ago today, a white supremacist walked into a Charleston church and killed nine African American parishioners engaged in bible study.
In a few weeks, on July 2nd in Washington D.C., the National Education Association will hold its national convention.
Ironically last year it was held in Orlando, a few miles from the location of last week’s massacre.
At the Orlando meeting, most delegates were still reeling from the Charleston shooting.
On behalf of the Illinois delegation I introduced and moved New Business Item 11, which called on the NEA to support efforts to remove the symbol of American slavery, white supremacy and racism from public schools and public places.
In the year since we passed NBI 11, the movement in defense of the Confederate flag has exploded.
A year later, the backlash against the Confederate flag has spurred a counter-backlash, one that is playing out in countless skirmishes in courtrooms, township council rooms, bedrooms and Facebook posts, especially in the South. In the six months after the Charleston shooting, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 364 Confederate flag rallies around the South. That doesn’t include a spurt of growth in the number of flags on private lawns and on bumper stickers.
364 Confederate flag rallies.
One a day.
The Confederate flag movement is inextricably tied to the campaign of Donald Trump. The Trump rallies and the Confederate flag rallies attract the same white supremacist crowds.
And what has been the response to New Business Item 11. It produced one of the longest discussions in the history of the National Education Association’s Representative Assemblies.
A few weeks ago the NEA distributed copies of model legislation on the Confederate flag to state affiliates. To my knowledge, no state has witnessed the introduction of the model legislation in their state legislatures.
A few days ago I received an email from the NEA that there would be an article on the Confederate flag on June 19th in their online Education Votes.
Finally they will say something in response to NBI 11 one year and two days after the Charleston murders. It is a few weeks shy of a year since the last RA.
Not exactly moving with the speed of lightning.
Silence = Death was the slogan of many Gay activists in the 70s.
At the NEA RA in Washington I expect there will be a moment of silence for those who died in Orlando.
For a national union that claims to be for social justice, their silence seems to last for more than a moment.