The comparison between Jim Crow racial segregation and the Wake County school board majority's plan for community-based schools was heavily stressed at Saturday's NAACP news conference.
The Rev. David Forbes, pastor of Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh, said the talk about neighborhood schools reminds him of what it was like having gone to segregated schools as a child. He said "neighborhood schools means that they use the best for them and leave the least for us."
"Before we would be slaves we would be buried in our graves and go home to be with the Lord and to be free," Forbes said to cheers. "But freedom is not free. We must roll up our sleeves, even if they are short sleeves. Roll them up. Get behind our leadership and get the job done. Wake County today, North Carolina tomorrow, the United States of America next week. Let's get the job done."
Forbes is a local civil rights legend who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. It's no coincidence that the news conference was held at his church.
The Rev. Nancy Petty, senior pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, was the next speaker after Forbes.
"As a white person standing here this morning I feel like I ought to lead us in a time of confession on the part of my people," Petty said to first laughter and then applause. "Ask for your forgiveness because we've been part of a sinful time and I stand here before you to ask for your forgiveness and to join your hand in walking with you not as black and white but as one humanity."