Activist Jimmie Griffin is speaking out against Mayor O’Leary’s plan to fill a vacancy on the Waterbury Board of Education with an Albanian. Griffin penned the following open letter to the Mayor, which he released today.
Dear Honorable Mayor O’ Leary,
In a recent news brief, I was shocked to hear you’re preference for a vacancy on Waterbury’s Board of Education would be an Albanian. Let me be clear in no way are these comments to be taken as offensive to Waterbury’s Albanian population, but I find it a slap in the face to African Americans and Latinos that you would make such a preference when their children comprise more than 75% of the student population, and represented by less than 20% of the school administrators, teachers and board of education members.
I do understand your efforts to diversify our city’s government, but I am appalled by the Democratic Party and its reluctance to recognize the tremendous participation and support coming from those communities during your recent election to mayor of our city.
I grew up in this city, and I have watched year after year the blatant racism on the board of education and the entire civil service system, and to see this continued neglect up until today is something that sickens my attitude toward our local government. As you recall, I am and have always been outspoken when it comes to my concerns for fairness. When you were elected you promised improvement in the equality of our city’s residents, but thus far, I have yet to see any major appointments to any positions, boards or commissions in this city.
I have earned a right to voice my opinion as a former candidate for mayor, state representative and past president of both the local and state NAACP. If you recall it was I and the past leadership of the NAACP, along with the Waterbury Republican-American, that forced a hearing on the Waterbury hiring practices of the school system by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, over 10 years ago.
It is my contention based on the wide achievement gap between white, African-American and Latino students, you should take into strong consideration the disparate past treatment of those two groups be paramount in you’re selection preference, because I feel they require someone who has a frame of reference and the needed compassion to advocate for our children.
Thanks for your kind consideration of my noted concerns, and I know I speak for many who dare not speak truth to power for fear of political and personal retaliation in a city that has a very poor record in responding to their concerns. This is no time for political patronage or favors to any group of your supporters, but it’s the time to do the right thing for the majority of the city’s people!
Sincerely, I am
Founder of Connecticut’s African American Emancipation Challenge
P.S. Your direct quote from Republican-American , after saying you were looking for a qualified person of Albanian heritage, was, ” Because of the significant Albanian population in the schools.” 8/7/12 local section headline story on resignation of school board member.