Nicole Cober Page, the mother of Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grade student at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Virginia, lists up to four occasions when her son was "singled out because of his race to educate the class about black issues."
According to his mother, this included most recently being asked to read aloud the Langston Hughes poem “Ballad of the Landlord” in a "blacker" voice. Page says that when her son did not comply, the teacher read the poem herself in what classmates described as a "slave-like" manner.
Page says that Jordan was also once asked to rap the lyrics of a Tupac Shakur hip-hop song and on another occasion he was asked to explain why black people like grape soda.
In spite of these instances, "Jordan is proud to go to Marshall. It's a wonderful school, but even in the best places some bad things happen," Page explains.
Jon Torre, a Fairfax public school spokesperson, provided CNN with a statement saying that "Marshall High School administrators are taking these allegations seriously and school officials are vigorously pursuing an investigation of these incidents. The school launched the investigation on Wednesday immediately after the student's mother made them aware of her concerns."
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Editor's note: Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College (CUNY), is the author of "Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present" and the "U.S. Constitution: An African-American Context." The Founder/Director of The Law and Policy Group, Inc., she is a former civil rights attorney, and a freelance correspondent covering the U.S. Supreme Court.
By Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Special to CNN
(CNN) –I was born into a country with immense opportunity and a deep history of racism.
Jennifer Gratz, the plaintiff in Michigan’s “reverse discrimination” case, and other opponents of affirmative action inherited this conflicted state of affairs as well. Yet, they want the great weight of America’s racial legacy to fall only on the shoulders of people of color. This inheritance belongs to all of us.
In the fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas. Then, the Court may deem affirmative action in higher education as unconstitutional, thus locking generations of people of color into an inherited inequality. In its present eviscerated state, affirmative action may be a mere bandage on the festering wound of American racism. It is neither a panacea nor a cure-all. However, for now, it is quite necessary.
Challengers of affirmative action focus on the last thirty years of alleged inequality. Unfortunately, for all of us, the seeds of racial injustice were planted centuries ago. Africans were part of the Jamestown Colony before the landing of the Mayflower. Anthony and Mary Johnson, a married African couple, with servants and land, resided in that Virginia colony in the 1600s. Before the century ended, laws were enacted to take their land and create chattel slavery. This is American history. For nearly 300 years, legal inequality subjugated people of color who lived, loved, hoped, and died praying for justice.
When slavery ended due to the efforts of Black and White abolitionists, the 14th Amendment was ratified. The 14th Amendment gave citizenship and equal protection to African-Americans whom the U.S. Supreme Court had previously designated under the Dred Scott decision as non-persons, outside the protection of American laws. The backlash was immediate. African-Americans became the object of terrorism unprecedented in American history. This malevolence by law and tradition would continue for 100 years, assuring every inch of progress would be hard fought and uncertain. Despite Black Codes designed to re-enslave African-Americans and Jim Crow segregation, the quest for equality under law remained the battle cry of people of color.
For one shining moment, equality under law appeared to be more than an American dream. Decades of protest, during which lives and livelihoods were lost, resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat from Texas. Johnson, who knew well the depths of racism in America, signed Executive Order 11246, creating a policy referred to as “affirmative action,” in September of 1965. However, it was a Republican, Richard Nixon, from California, who in 1969, began the Philadelphia Plan, an affirmative action initiative in employment. FULL POST