We're getting some more info on the people who were arrested for refusing to give up the podium at Tuesday's Wake County school board meeting.
In an article today in the Associated Baptist Press, four of the six people who were arrested are identified as members of Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. Pullen has been a hotbed of protest against the end of the diversity policy with the church's senior pastor, the Rev. Nancy Petty, having been arrested twice on trespassing charges at board meetings.
All three teens who were arrested are members of Pullen, including Seth Keel. It was Keel, 16, a Middle Creek High student, who launched the protest by refusing to leave the podium after his two minutes. He was soon joined at the microphone by the other five people.
Keel and his mother, Dr. Jill Hinton, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared last month in the liberal Independent weekly. It describes Keel's frustration about not being able to speak at the July 20 board meeting. The letter includes some of the remarks he wound up making Tuesday.
"A neighborhood school system will segregate schools based on socio-economic status and create unequal opportunities for learning," Keel said Tuesday. "It will also prohibit current and future students from benefiting from the diversity that was so important and relevant in my education."
Keel was interviewed Wednesday by WTVD. He tells the television station that he'll do whatever it takes to get the board to reinstate the diversity policy.
"Diversity is something that isn't just important to the minorities in Wake County, it's important to all of the students," Keel said. "There's a feeling that I have that the school board isn't listening to the students or the parents so I thought it was necessary to do what we did."
Hinton supported her son's actions.
"I think if anything it may be an asset for him in the future as far as where he wants to go and what he wants to do since he's willing to stand up for what he believes in," Hinton said.
Keel said you can expect more students and more protests at board meetings.
Hinton wrote a letter to the editor that appeared today, Thursday, in the N&O. In the letter, she praises Keel for his act of civil disobedience.
"Unlike the few who wish to repeal the diversity policy, he is able to see beyond his own interest to the interest of all students," Keel writes.