I know the story du jour is all about what happened in Orlando, and without a doubt this is a major Islamic jihadist attack on our homeland. What shall the consequences be? We have to sit and wait. Needless to say, this is not the time for talk about love and tolerance towards the enemy. They need to receive the full wrath of America, right now.
However there is an issue that will still be around for the upcoming presidential election that I felt necessary to share with you.
While in Atlanta over the weekend for the First Infantry Division annual reunion, I awoke on Saturday and Sunday mornings to take runs through my old neighborhood, the Old Fourth Ward. I went by my boyhood home at 651 Kennesaw Ave, my church Fort Street United Methodist, the Atlanta Civic Center where I graduated, and my Elementary School, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic.
The history of my school is remarkable. As per its website, “Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1911 by the Rev. Ignatius Lissner, of the Society of African Missions. His search for a site to build this mission was met with both anti-black and anti-Catholic sentiment.
With the help of J.J. Spalding, a member of nearby Sacred Heart parish, Father Lissner succeeded in purchasing the current site in March of 1912. By November of that year, the building was completed, blessed and dedicated. Father Lissner obtained financing from Mother Katharine Drexel (now Saint Katharine Drexel) a wealthy heiress from Pennsylvania who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, an order established to serve Black and Indian people.
Our Lady of Lourdes is located in the midst of what is now known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district and we like to think that our parish is a testament to Dr. King’s civil rights dream fulfilled.
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament staffed Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School until 1974. The school closed in 2001, when the Archdiocese of Atlanta could no longer provide funding. It is now the Katharine Drexel Community Center, which includes church offices, Sunday school classrooms, a choir rehearsal hall, and the Drexel Institute for the Arts. It is also used as a parish hall.”
My parents made an investment in my education and saved the funds to send me to Our Lady of Lourdes. What I got there was the foundation of a premier education that set my feet upon the right path. In the heart of the inner city community in which I was born and raised, my folks made a choice decision, a school choice decision.
Now, due to a lack of funding from the Archdiocese of Atlanta, my school had to shut down. How many deserving young boys and girls will miss out on that opportunity to receive the great equalizer — a quality education? My folks even made the decision to send me to Mrs. Hanley’s School before I got to the First grade at Our Lady of Lourdes. I had mastered cursive handwriting and multiplication tables along with being adept at addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication and division. This is what education is and should be in Atlanta — the ability of parents, regardless of where they live, to make the best school choice for their children.
Just imagine what it would be like if there was a school voucher or education savings account program, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School could have still been open. We were all taught the history of Lourdes as students. It was Atlanta’s first, and therefore oldest black Catholic parish and education center.
Kids came from all over Atlanta to attend Lourdes and most went onto St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in downtown Atlanta. Sadly, I remember the closing of St. Joe’s — funny, we were all looking forward to attending there.
And some of us know that one of President Obama’s first edicts was to close the DC School Voucher program while sending his progeny to the elite Sidwell Friends School. So the first black president told black children, do as I say, rather than enjoy the opportunities of our children. And what of Hillary Clinton? Have we heard her sing accolades and advance the idea of school choice, school vouchers, education savings accounts, charter schools, or home schooling? Nah, and you won’t because the major teachers unions, NEA/AFT, would literally destroy Clinton if she did.
So we have to ask, do liberal progressive socialists really want better education for inner city kids? The left drones on about income inequality, but what about education inequality?
As I ran past Our Lady of Lourdes I went past the final resting place for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. It is my honor to know my history is shared with the greatest alumni of the Old Fourth Ward, Dr. King. And being able to attend elementary school right there in his shadow is a memory I shall never forget…sadly there will be generations who will never know that honor, that privilege.
Yesterday, America suffered a horrendous Islamic terror attack…but our kids in the inner city face attacks every day with the loss of the two-parent family household, the decimation of small business entrepreneurship, and shrinking quality educational choices.
And that’s what kills over a longer period. It kills the ability to rise above dire circumstances and take part in the American dream to pursue one’s happiness. It destroys the soul and the desire to achieve greater heights. Denial of a quality education to our children has and will ultimately destroy more lives than these terror attacks, no matter how heinous. I saw it with the preponderance of young homeless black men in downtown Atlanta.