'Black only' assembly offends sensibilities - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

'Black only' assembly offends sensibilities

February 1, 2008

Leesburg --  Several Lee County High parents voiced their disapproval Friday, when the school held a Black History Assembly for the black students only.  White students were told they could not attend.

Only about 19% of the Lee County High School student body is black. Principal Kevin Dowling said he held the black student only assembly to talk to them about test scores, so that none of them would be embarrassed.

In Georgia and in Lee County, the black students test scores as a whole are lagging behind white students. In the assembly, Dowling had black parents and teachers talk to the students about racial history in Lee County, to try to get motivate them to take advantage of their opportunities.

Dowling said looking back on the objections from whites, he should have made it more clear what the assembly was about. "I should have been more up front, at the beginning in the days beforehand about what we are going to do. I didn't do that. I made it more general, because I didn't want it to be a big issue," Dowling said.

Steve Jenkins is one of the parents who went to Lee County High today to talk to Dowling about the black only assembly, saying he was worried about the message being sent.

"Singling out somebody-- I'm tired of this black white thing,"  said Parent Steve Jenkins. "We need to get over that."

Jenkins said after talking with Dowling, he knows that the Principal was trying to do the right thing, but disagreed with the assembly. Dowling said the school will hold three other assemblies during the month on Black History, for all the students.

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