10/15/06 — Chambers urges parents to fight for children's rights

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Chambers urges parents to fight for children's rights

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 15, 2006 2:00 AM

When Dr. Julius Chambers addressed those gathered at the N.C. NAACP annual state convention, he called on parents to fight for the rights of their children -- to be a presence at meetings of school and county officials statewide.

Nearly 100 people gathered at the Goldsboro-Raleigh District Assembly Building on Hooks River Road Saturday to discuss the issue of equitable education.

Representatives from the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus joined Chambers, a civil rights scholar and attorney, and NAACP state conference president, the Rev. William Barber, as they addressed the congregation.

Barber opened the forum with a few comments.

"We're not just here for a gathering," he said, adding the NAACP was preparing for a "fresh fight" for education and the convention was a chance to "lay out a battle plan" to fight inequity in county schools. "You cannot have a movement without a gathering. And we recognize that we must fight for our children."

As he turned the microphone over to Chambers, a 43-year member of the NAACP, the crowd applauded the presence of the well-known activist.

"It's good to see that you are continuing with the fight and the struggle," Chambers said.

The current struggle, he added, involves the "resegregation" of schools statewide, a problem that some argue doesn't exist, he said.

"One can go across the state, and the schools have resegregated much to the disadvantage our black children," Chambers said. "It's because the folks who didn't want desegregation rebelled."

He referenced flagship back schools from Charlotte to Goldsboro as examples of the struggle young black students face -- the lack of resources others have, inexperienced teachers and more.

"Those kids at those schools were scoring lower on standardized exams than those at any other schools in the state," Chambers said. "And I wondered, what happened to the black parents?"

Parents are ultimately responsible for fighting for the rights of their children, he added. Without their voices, problems that surface at all-black schools go unnoticed, he said.

"You ought to be able to ask why our children aren't doing better," Chambers said. "I know what performance on the SAT means."

He wants the state conference of the NAACP to get serious in their commitment to application of pressure on schools systems and county officials statewide, he said -- to appropriate funding that ensures all children get a sound education.

"You can't afford to sit back and do nothing," Chambers said. "Our kids aren't dumb. They can go out and do something. But they need you."