NAACP chapter finds Carroll Countians often insensitive to blacks' feelings

January 15, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Leann Martin felt inconvenienced when she had to prove she bought something she was carrying through a department store without a bag.

When the sales clerk followed her as she left the store, she said she felt harassed.

"How would you feel if someone was walking behind you watching every move you made, like you were a criminal?" Mrs. Martin asked yesterday during a news conference at Union Memorial Baptist Church in Westminster held by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The Rev. Mary D. Carter-Cross, president of the organization, said this is typical for black Carroll County residents.

"We, the Carroll County branch of the NAACP, have gathered to collectively take issue with the momentum of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech, 'I have a Dream,' " said Ms. Carter-Cross at the news conference. "We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go."

Ms. Carter-Cross said she called the meeting to outline the problems of major concern to the welfare of the African-American community.

The county school system is a primary concern, the group said, charging it does not encourage leadership and bolster confidence among black students.

"Right now the only history being taught to our children is [Eurocentric]," said Cheryl Crandall, who teaches at the Taneytown Elementary School Annex.

"While other counties seem to feel Carroll is doing well by comparison, they don't notice that there is a great deal of improvement needed in the curriculum," Mrs. Crandall said.

James Joyce and other county school students compiled their concerns during a NAACP rally last Thursday, which included the need for more African-American teachers in Carroll schools.

The county has a 5 percent African-American population.

"There needs to be some people in the school system capable of teaching students about the contributions of African-Americans," Mrs. Crandall said.

The group also took issue with the treatment blacks receive at their jobs and in stores.

Mahlia Joyce used as an example a time at her job at a local bed-and-breakfast establishment, when she was asked to dress Colonial period costume.

"While I don't feel my employers meant any bad intent, that would have made me a slave," said Ms. Joyce.

"Some people are just insensitive to African-Americans' feelings," said Keith Smith, who said his son James is dealing with many racial problems in school. "They are not tolerant of other people's cultures."

The group agreed that some of their goals could be summed up by the items on James Joyce's list.

"We want to be treated equally in schools and stores by teachers and sales clerks, not followed around like we did something," James Joyce said. "To be seen as a person, not as a person of color."

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