Jump to content

Recommended Posts

For several years, I was a Big Brother, until my little brother, Ali, his mom Iris, and his sister, Naimah, moved to San Diego to stake out a better life for themselves. I remember taking his family to the airport, and had to pay for their cat to get on the plane because they didn't have the money.

I only saw Ali once more after that, a few years later when I went to visit their family out in San Diego. We drove up to Los Angeles because Ali wanted to go to the Spike Lee Store, where everything was overpriced and of questionable quality. I bought him a T-shirt, and paid twice what it was worth - I didn't want to drive back to San Diego without a momento from his hero.

A few years before that, I had flown in from Moscow. Exhausted after traveling the better part of 24 hours, I was ready to collapse into bed, but checked my answering machine first. There was a message from Iris: Ali's best friend Frankie was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad, and the funeral was in about one hour. Somehow, I found the strength to throw on a suit, and drive to Seat Pleasant, where I was the only white person at the funeral. Frankie's mom came up to me, and asked me to say a few words. To this day, I have no idea why - what the heck was I supposed to say? Fighting lack of concentration because of sleepiness, I fumbled through my speech, turned to Frankie lying in his coffin, and told him we all loved him - that won the audience over, and things went as well as they could have under the extreme amount of pressure I was under.

Six years ago, I wondered what Ali had been up to, and I searched his name on the internet, only to find his obituary. I posted this. Frankie and Ali were both the finest young men. I loved them and miss them terribly to this day - their premature deaths are 100% attributable to the neighborhoods they grew up in - even though Iris tried her best to escape, it just wasn't enough. She didn't have the money. 

I did things with Ali and Frankie about once a week, and remember one day asking them where they went to school. "Taney Middle School," Ali said, which meant nothing to me, or to him, or to Frankie. 

But a few years later, I did a little research, and found that Roger B. Taney was a Supreme Court Justice. 'Okay,' I thought to myself, they had gone to a middle school named after a Supreme Court Justice. Then, I found out that Roger B. Taney was actually Chief Justice from 1836-1864, and was the person who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857.

These children were going to a school that was nearly 100% black, and the school was named after the Chief Justice who tried the Dred Scott case? I couldn't believe it, but over the years, I forgot all about it.

Until recently, when it popped back into my mind, and I Googled to see if that school was really named after the same man who wrote the Dred Scott ruling - the ruling that said, blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." 

Fortunately, in 1993, someone had the common sense to change the name of the school from "Roger B. Taney Middle School" to "Thurgood Marshall Middle School":

"School May Change Name to Thurgood Marshall" on articles.orlandosentinel.com

This column came out today:

"Out with Redskins - and Everything Else!" by George F. Will on washingtonpost.com

Will mixed up some valid points along with some reductio ad absurdum, as he seems to have a tendency to do - he's a smart guy; I wonder what he would say about Roger B. Taney Middle School educating a nearly all-black student body.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...